Two New Topped-Up Beauties from Montbourgeau

César Deriaux

We may be historical partisans of the Jura’s inimitable and classic sous-voile style of white wine, but recent exciting developments at our beloved Domaine Montbourgeau in L’Etoile have left us no choice but to engage with the World of the Topped-Up… 

Nicole Deriaux, who took over from her father in 1986, is now passing the torch to her dynamic sons César and Baptiste. While the boys continue to produce Montbourgeau’s classic styles, they are also making tiny quantities of non-oxidative Chardonnay from several of the domaine’s old parcels.

L’Étoile is an appellation renowned for white wine above all, as its highly calcareous soils make for wines of intense yet finessed minerality. This sense of elegance, which keeps Montbourgeau’s wines fresh even when made in a heavily oxidative style (like their Vin Jaune or their legendary “Cuvée Spéciale”), comes through even more prominently in César and Baptiste’s topped-up Chardonnays. These are wines of palate-staining salinity, scythe-like acidity, and incredible vibrancy, and they one in the mind of the great wines of Domaine Labet (while being less lactic in feel).

The élevage is interesting: no matter its final destination, each separately vinified parcel of the domaine spends its first full year in large 25-30-hectoliter foudres which are kept full; after 12 months, César pulls about 1,000 bottles to be bottled as single-vineyard ouillé wines, giving them a few months in stainless steel to assemble and settle further. The rest of the juice goes into smaller barrels for a sous-voile stint.

2020 L’Etoile Chardonnay “Montmorain”

This parcel, which faces east and receives less sun than some of the domaine’s other slopes, was planted in 1956 to celebrate the marriage of Nicole’s parents. This wine’s saline, highly poised palate prompts immediate salivation, and one feels a certain lift here which deftly balances its characteristic Jura brassy twang.

2020 L’Etoile Chardonnay “Pied de Mont-Augy”

The domaine’s most ancient plot of Chardonnay, planted in 1920, produces a wine thick with old-vines intensity yet sizzling with the characteristic acidity of the appellation. This pulls off a sense of serene balance despite the tug-of-war between limestone cling and ringing yellow fruits that is waged on the palate.

More on Domaine de Montbourgeau here.