The village of Puligny-Montrachet betrays nothing of the treasures surrounding its somnolent inertia – a one horse town without a horse. From such unpromising origins emerge a number of the greatest white wines in the world, grands and premiers crus which combine richness with an electric intensity. Puligny-Montrachet is an extraordinary commune, producing some of the world’s very greatest white wines, from 230 hectares of land, sandwiched between Meursault to the north and Chassagne-Montrachet, to the south. It produces all of grands crus Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet plus around half of two others, Le Montrachet itself and Bâtard-Montrachet.
The vineyards lie to either side of the sleepy village, and on the slopes which rise from Puligny-Montrachet’s western boundaries. The lower slopes produce villages wines and the premiers and grands crus are on progressively steeper, rocky, scrubby uplands, at over 240m. Production is almost entirely white, wines which are more steely, mineral and intense, thoroughbreds alongside weightier Chassagne and Meursault. Puligny-Montrachet Villages, from the best producers, can be wonderfully precise and focused.
The premiers crus, at their best, peer commendably over the shoulders of the grands crus, sometimes surpassing them. The jostling for position occurs, to an extent, in the vineyard too as the premiers crus are on an extension of the grand cru slopes, lying on the same line, continuing northwards. The grands crus are restricted to the south of the commune and, in the case of Le Montrachet, and Bâtard-Montrachet, straddle out of it.
Puligny-Montrachet Grands Crus – vineyards and wines
It is important not to be too starry-eyed about grands crus at the expense of a spectacular line-up of sensational premier cru sites, but there are only six grand cru whites in Burgundy and all bar two feature here.
Le Montrachet, 8 hectare in total, is in a class of its own, situated at 260m, with 4.01 hectare on the Puligny side, 3.99 hectare in Chassagne. Le Montrachet at its most sublime will age for decades, demanding at least ten years in bottle before revealing even hints of its charm. It combines opulence, intensity, concentration and real vinosity with a precision and focus which can be electric. Acidity, perfectly pitched, complements the richness, fine-tuning its elegant composure. Corney & Barrow is privileged to work with Domaine Leflaive, which has 0.08 hectares within Le Montrachet.
Chevalier-Montrachet, 7.36 hectares further up the slope from Le Montrachet, is planted on very sparse, unwelcoming, stony soil, which naturally limits yields, boosting potential quality. Chevalier-Montrachet can be magnificent – a very noble wine which just loses out on intensity to its lower neighbour. Domaine Leflaive has 1.92 hectares within Chevalier-Montrachet.
Bâtard-Montrachet, 11.86 hectares, lies partly in Chassagne (5.84 hectares) part in Puligny (6.02 hectares) on brownish limestone and gravel. Richer soils make for a more ebullient style. Domaine Leflaive has 1.91 hectares within Bâtard-Montrachet.
Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, 3.68 hectares, lies in the north-east corner of Bâtard-Montrachet, sharing the same exposure and soils. Domaine Leflaive has 1.15 hectares within Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet.
Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, 1.57 hectares, lies entirely within Chassagne-Montrachet – but it is part of the complex picture. Miniscule, it lies due south from Bâtard-Montrachet.
Puligny-Montrachet Premiers Crus – vineyards and wines
The premiers crus are remarkable: the following range can be found within the Corney & Barrow portfolio of exclusivities.
Les Combettes, 6.76 hectares, lies to the north of the appellation and abuts Meursault. The wines have a tendency to reflect the vineyard situation, presenting the zest and tensile purity of Puligny, rounded and enriched with more Meursault attributes, honeyed notes and hints of brioche. Corney & Barrow is privileged to work with Domaine Leflaive, which has 0.71 hectares within Les Combettes.
Le Clavoillon (5.58 hectares) is further south, in the heart of the commune, an easterly continuation downslope from Les Folatières. The soils are deeper here and, although stony, there is visible clay. The wines are denser, more structured than those of its neighbours. Domaine Leflaive has 4.8 hectares within Le Clavoillon.
Les Folatières (13.63 hectares) is the largest of the premiers crus, situated immediately west and upslope from Le Clavoillon. The soil here is thin and chalky, with upper slope limestone debris. The wines tend to be full and rounded with good weight, fine focus and a wonderfully pure mineral tone. Domaine Leflaive has 1.25 hectares within Les Folatières.
Les Pucelles (5.13 hectares) is astoundingly good – sitting proudly alongside the grands crus (the vineyard is only separated from Bienvenue by a narrow road). Domaine Leflaive has 3.05 hectares within Les Pucelles.
Les Referts (5.52 hectares) lies further down the slope from Les Combettes, bordering Meursault. These wines tend to exhibit slightly more Meursault weight, than Les Combettes, but retain Puligny finesse – often gently spiced. Olivier Leflaive sources grapes here, which they then vinify.
Puligny-Montrachet villages – vineyards and wines
The appellation of Puligny-Montrachet villages covers 114 hectares, with the vast majority in white wine. Less than 1% of the total production is red. Even at villages level, there can be a wonderful thoroughbred raciness in Puligny, not found in either of its neighbours, Meursault or Chassagne. Corney & Barrow is privileged to work with Domaine Leflaive, which has hectares of villages.
Also within the villages wines we buy from Olivier Leflaive’s own parcel of lieu dit Puligny-Montrachet Les Meix, a tiny section of what is a rather large plot, extending towards the road. Quality is therefore very variable but Olivier Leflaive’s organically-farmed portion lies immediately across from Les Pucelles, separated by a two metre road.
Vineyards at Domaine Leflaive
Vine at Domaine Leflaive
Vineyards at Domaine Leflaive
Les Pucelles (or Les Meix??) vineyards, Domaine Leflaive