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I received an invite from a good friend to attend a blind 2008 Montrachet tasting and dinner at Saison Restaurant in San Francisco. Mark Bright, Saison’s sommelier, did an excellent job of providing us with some of the best wine service you could imagine. As previously stated, all wines were tasted blind from right to left (as pictured above) and decanted about 6 hours before serving. To view personal tasting notes for all seven wines, please view the tabbed items below.

Montrachet tasting notes for wines 1-7

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A muted nose with no sign of reduction. The initial flavors also seemed a bit muted then melded into rich persistent citrus fruits with a touch of oak. Nice long acidity, but overall the wine was lacking what the other wines had.
A slight buttered popcorn with sweet fruit nose. Mild initial acidity with very lovely fruit that had an elegant and regalness to it. Long finish that showed a very balanced wine.  I kept writing “elegant” in my notes. I liked this wine very much.
The nose gave off an aroma of smoked fruits with a hint of grapefruit and lime.  Nice acidity with decent oak integration and orchard fruits. The wine then transformed into a long smooth enjoyable finish, which was satisfying, but did not live up the NO. 2 wine or some of those to follow.
The nose EXPLODED form the glass.  I literally said “wow” when I put my nose in the bowl. Rich lime and citrus notes that filled up every part of your smelling senses. Crazy nose on this wine which upon first taste made the wine seem mild in flavors. One of the richer wines at the tasting, almost giving the perception of botrytis. With time the sweet exotic fruits integrated very well and provided much enjoyment over the hours.
Corked bottle and a shame. Before it began to really show that it was corked you could get a sense that there was something really nice here.
Strong floral scent on the nose, which was different than the previous wines.  Mild fruit with an elegance that mirrored Wine No. 2. Balanced and layered complexity with hints of pear and custard. A shorter finish than others, but it was by no means disappointing.
Smokey fruit on the nose that led to a nice persistent attack of very rich exotic fruits. This wine and Wine No. 4 both stood out from the rest as being richer than the others.  Very nice acidity for how extracted the exotic fruits were, layering finish which gathered balance as it sat in the glass. By far my favorite wine of the night and one in which I called blind after a single taste.
A Puligny-Montrachet vineyard

Difficult Montrachet soil creates extraordinary wines

My top four wines of the night were:

  1. Wine No. 7 (Domaine Romanee Conti)
  2. Wine No. 4 (Domaine des Comtes Lafon)
  3. Wine No. 2 (Bouchard Père & Fils)
  4. Wine No. 6 (Domaine Ramonet)


The other wines were all of great class and are as follows:

  • Wine No. 1 (Domaine Blain-Gagnard)
  • Wine No. 3 (Maison Joseph Drouhin)
  • Wine No. 5 (Domaine Pierre Yves Colin-Morey)

A few thoughts on the domaines

The item that stood out to me most was how the wines themselves could be grouped together, with the Domaine Romanee Conti and Lafon showing much richer more exotic flavors and the Bouchard and Ramonet being a bit more elegant and regal. All four of the aforementioned wines were very well balanced and the terroir shined through. This simply shows to me that it is up to the individual to seek out a producer who fits their individual tastes, whether that be Montrachet or a simple Bourgogne.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]…it is up to the individual to seek out a producer who fits their individual tastes, whether that be Montrachet or a simple Bourgogne[/quote]

Terroir, historical and pairing details

Here are some notes on the terroir, history of the area as well as a few food pairing ideas from the marathon tasting at Saison. We invite you to share your experiences as well!

Vineyard / soil / terroir of Montrachet Climat

Sitting between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, this Grand Cru classified vineyard has been planted to maximize eastern to south-eastern exposure from all the topographical variations in the land, allowing late afternoon and early evening sunlight to fully ripen the grapes. Montrachet soil contains red clay and is of the type usually reserved for Pinot Noir in the Cote d’Or. It is considered of poorer quality than the soil of it’s neighbors down the slope, Batard Montrachet and Bienvenue Batard Montrachet, due to more stones and thinner topsoil. For this reason, the vines struggle deeper into the limestone far below the surface, producing a lovely minerality in the wine.

Historical notes

The area and town of Puligny-Montrachet, or Puliniacus as the Romans called it, enjoyed a wine-centric culture over 2000 years ago. Monasteries famous for their wine growing set roots here and throughout the region and over the centuries began organizing vineyards according to terroir. Over the centuries these monasteries helped to fine tune the growing style still used in the Montrachet area. Classified as a Grand Cru officially in 1937, growers and producers must follow strict rules regarding planting style and production techniques. This appellation d’origine contrôlée is considered one of the finest plots of land in the world for growing chardonnay.

Food pairing ideas

The chef at Saison and Sommelier Mark Bright worked with our group to prepare a 10 course menu of little plates to pair with the wine. The dishes comprised mostly of lightly cooked seafood, caviar and heirloom vegetables. The standout dish for me was the seared scallop pictured above with the glasses of Montrachet.


Montrachet tasting bottle lineup

Montrachet tasting bottle lineup

Saison Restaurant

2124 Folsom Street (@17th)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Want to talk wine?

Email me at info@amitiewines, tweet @AmitieWines, or feel free to add your comments below.

To Friendship!