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le montrachet, j-f bazin (1990)

montrachet“At first it seems ridiculous to devote a whole book to a few acres of stony hillside, owned through the ages by an ever-changing, ever-squabbling gang of greedy rustics, producing a mere 30,000 bottles of wine per year.”

So starts the foreward by Nicolas Faith who edited this English translation of Jean-François Bazin’s 1988 publication in French, Le Montrachet, and it’s about the only tongue-in-cheek moment in the whole book. Don’t let that put you off. Despite the profiles of the domaines that own parts of Montrachet (or it’s hyphenated neighbours) being 20 years out of date, this 190 page book is worth any second-hand purchase you might find.

Bazin meticulously works his way through the history of the area and the families that owned parts of the vineyard, what was Montrachet and what tried to be Montrachet. This translation of his French text original is very well done and reads easily. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes:

Showing that counterfeiting is as old as the sun:

“In 1822 André Jullien wrote: “Meursault… produces many highly appreciated white wines which, as they leave the area, often take on the name of the wines of Mont-Rachet which they resemble to some degree, though they do not have all their fine quality.” A century earlier, 1728 the priest Arnoux warned his readers against “the vines which are neighbours to that vineyard, for they somewhat resemble it in quality and sometimes pass for Montrachet”. “That is why you should be sure of having a trustworthy agent if you wish to procure some”, he advises.”

Finally, did someone mention squabbling rustics?

“It is probable that the strange greenish-yellow colour of Montrachet deepened along with progress in vinification and preservation of wines. In the eighteenth century it doubtless had the transparent palour of a young priest at court. Greenish-gold? Chablis and Pouilly-Fuissé also claim this mysterious blend of colour and its reflections. Yellow? “No” they say in Chassagne “Puligny is yellow.” Yellow? “No” they say in Puligny “Meursault is yellow.” “

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