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What is the Monthélie appellation?

Monthélie is a village in the Côte de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy. It has had its own cummunal appellation since 1937. By virtue of its vineyards, it produces mainly red wines based on pinot noir. A small quantity of white wine based on Chardonnay is also produced under the Monthélie appellation; at present this represents only about 13% of the total production, but it is increasing.

Monthélie is only a small village but produces a surprising amount of wine every year, making its economy almost entirely dependent on viticulture and wine production. The land and the people are so concentrated on wine production that the village has an old saying that a chicken would starve to death during the harvest there. A comparison of the population (less than 200 people) with the annual wine production of the appellation (65,000 bottles) confirms that this saying still holds true.

The classic wines of Monthélie resemble those of Volnay (the villages are only a kilometre away), but are not as perfect or elegant. However, they are generally considered superior to the red wines of Auxey-Duresses (also located one kilometre in the other direction), which underlines the extremely fine nature of the Burgundy terroirs.

Although the name Monthélie is traditionally associated with red wines, Chardonnay production has increased over the last 30 years, particularly in the vineyards at the southern end of the parish. The soils of these sites, which border the famous white wine village of Meursault, are deeper and slightly more fertile than those of the hills, and are therefore better suited to the production of chardonnay than pinot noir.

 

Monthélie is home to 15 Premier Cru climats, concentrated in an area to the east of the village, on the edge of the best vineyards of Volnay. These produce about a quarter of all Monthélie wines and the most respected wines of the village. Nevertheless, they are not generally considered among the best sites of Premier Cru in Burgundy.

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