Domaine de Montille
The family's origins can be traced back to the middle of the 17th century at Créancey in the Auxois region, with the Lords of Commeau. Then comes the 18th century. 'The domaine pre-dates the revolution; it was created in the 1750s,' states Hubert de Montille. It was re-named de Montille after the union of Marie Eléonore Chauvelot de Chevannes and Étienne Joseph Marie Léonce Bizouard de Montille, the grandfather of Hubert, on April 9, 1863. 'Montille' as he was known at the time, divided his time between the domaines in Volnay and Créancey and the Société des Agriculteurs de France, of which he was one of the founders.
The domaine sat on a veritable treasure, which at the time, was not recognised for its inherent value. Musigny, Bonnes Mares, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 'les Amoureuses'...in total, 12 hectares of magnificent terroir, planted with Pinot Noir in the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. Though today these parcels make wine lovers (and winemakers) swoon, they were sold off as and when the family's financial situation dictated. 'At the time,' notes Étienne de Montille, 'it was more common to sell vines than fields, as fields were more profitable.' Little by little, the ancestors chipped away at the domaine. In Burgundy, there is a saying: it only takes one generation to undo the work of many.... When Hubert decided to stop this erosion, the family domaine had been reduced to its smallest size of barely 3 hectares, composed of various parcels of Volnay 1er Cru.
Now, if the family tradition demanded that the men should embrace a career in law, then the arrival of Hubert de Montille marked a turning of the page. Granted, he became a lawyer like his father, but he lived a double life between Volnay and Dijon, between the vines and the court. Today there is still fire in his eyes when he speaks of his career as a winegrower. This pioneering and passionate man has engraved each vintage in his memory. Beginning with his first harvest in 1947, he broke with the custom of selling wine to negociants. Hubert de Montille was one of the first to believe in the future of the bottle. This new in-house strategy played an important role in the future of the domaine. 'When you sell your wine in bottles, and not in bulk, the approach is completely different,' explains Étienne.
The 1950s saw the birth of a new type of viticulture. The domaine Hubert de Montille made its mark throughout Burgundy. 'My father is a man of character and taste. He very quickly understood that what he wanted to do was to make wines that he loved, not necessarily wines that would sell easily,' remarks Étienne. 'His wines are not technical or round. On the contrary, they are authentic and improve with time, even if, on occasion, they can seem pretentious in their first flush of youth.' The wines of Hubert de Montille have personality.
It is this radically different approach that propelled the domaine to nestle amongst the great domaines of Burgundy. At a point when 90% of the region's wines were sold to negociants, who mades wines that could be described as stylistically standardized, the 'little' domains began to make wine that was radically different. Their idea was to revitalize this very particular Burgundian notion called 'terroir.' Each appellation, each 'climat' (a small parcel of land, sometimes even smaller than an appellation), that the monks classified and cultivated for over a millennia, gives a wine its distinct personality. Étienne explains, 'Above all my father looked to respect the authenticity of each of his terroirs by making wines of moderate alcohol, elegance and refined aromatic purity.'