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Domaine Stéphane Aladame

Affordable White Burgundy from the ‘Chablis of the South’
Domaine Stéphane Aladame

As Burgundy lovers broaden their horizons, the top growers of the Côte Chalonnaise are finally getting the recognition their wines deserve. It’s not that the region’s stars are going out cap in hand for more business―trying to eke out a larger allocation out of Vincent Dureuil is like trying to pull Excalibur from the stone. As the finest grower in Montagny, Stéphane Aladame is having a hard enough time keeping his domestic clients happy, let alone allocating wine to new export markets. Stéphane has earned an outstanding reputation among France’s top restaurant buyers and recently told us he has had to close his books to new markets and retail clients. All this is to say, with Stéphane’s apologies, we didn’t get anywhere near the quantity of wine we requested. We might have better luck with the higher-yielding 2022 vintage.

 

Montagny’s claim to fame in fine wine circles is its ability to make the most Chablis-like wines of the Côte Chalonnaise. Jasper Morris MW explains that Montagny is “quite unlike the other whites of the Côte Chalonnaise. There is a lively, fresh aspect that heads at least part of the way towards the marine character of Chablis, without the same oyster shells in the soils.” Stéphane himself describes the style as closer to Chablis than the Côte d’Or, in part due to the high limestone content—from the Liassic and Triassic periods that predate the Jurassic soils of the Côte d’Or—but also the shallow nature of Montagny’s soils. The vine’s roots do not have far to go before tapping into the fossil-rich rock.

 

Given the rocky nature of his terroirs, Stéphane prefers to work with neutral 350-litre barrels supported by stainless steel for his racier and younger-vine cuvées. There is no new oak in the cellar, and the wines are made without any additions other than a smidge of sulphur, although none exceed 25 mg/L. In a nutshell, Stéphane’s wines are not your safe-and-pleasant regional stereotypes but subtle and elegant, top-drawer Chalonnaise wines with the stamp of quality grower street-cred. And, while much of Burgundy has entered a complicated relationship with value, the pricing here remains as refreshing as the whites themselves.

The Wines

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny Prélude 2021

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny Prélude 2021

The name says it all: Prélude is the introductory Montagny, sourced from the vineyards of Le May (Saint-Vallerin) and Les Coères (Montagny). It was raised for 10 months in a combination of tank (60%) and older barrels (40%). The wine displays volume, yet it remains braced by a consistent thread of acidity. Pithy and fleshy with a citrus edge, it’s a perfectly balanced example of this underrated appellation. The palate sports finely honed citrus and mineral notes, impressive finesse and proper length. It’s delicious, charming, great value and has been described by Jasper Morris MW as, “An exemplary source of characterful Montagny.”

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny Prélude 2021
Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny 1er Cru Découverte 2021

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny 1er Cru Découverte 2021

Montagny is home to a dizzying number of Premier Cru vineyards, not all of which are quite worthy of their rank according to Stéphane Aladame. Regardless, this is a terrific white Burgundy that carries its classification lightly. It’s a blend of two limestone-rich Premier Cru sites (Les Maroques and Les Gouresses). The fruit comes from younger vines planted between 1995 and 2014 and the 2021 was raised entirely in cuve. Layered with more leesy complexity and fruit intensity than Prélude, this is silky, juicy and bright with a lively pinch of minerality through the palate. It closes with tones of citrus and chalk. Chablis of the south. 

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny 1er Cru Découverte 2021
Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny 1er Cru Les Coères 2021

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny 1er Cru Les Coères 2021

Stéphane Aladame farms just 0.5-hectares of this east-facing site. The domaine’s vines fall in the Montagny-les-Buxy section of the terroir in deep marl and blue clay soils at 290 metres altitude. Aladame uses two parcels (the older planted in 1985) supplemented by a ration of Chardonnay Muscaté (an old variety of Chardonnay that Benjamin Leroux also works with in the Meursault Narvaux terroir). The wine fermented and matured for 10 months in neutral 350-litre oak barrels. This is a step-up in density, yet it maintains the finesse, vibrancy and definition that are key to the domaine’s style. It’s really well detailed with pure notes of stone fruit, white flowers and salinity over juicy, mouthwatering texture. It finishes with lovely class, energy and zip. All nice things here. 

Domaine Stéphane Aladame Montagny 1er Cru Les Coères 2021

“For me the star Montagny producer is Stéphane Aladame, who bucks the safe-and-pleasant Chalonnaise stereotype to conjure wines of real and enduring interest... whites of delicious precision.” Raymond Blake, The World of Fine Wine

“Winemakers, such as Stéphane Aladame, demonstrate that Montagny’s calcareous soils have a lot of untapped potential.” Neal Martin, Vinous

“As I wrote last year, Stéphane Aladame is one of Montagny’s leading lights. His wines are pure, charming and worth seeking out.” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

“[The wines] are models of finesse and freshness, of good aging and offered at reasonable prices. This domain is very present on the best French gastronomic tables and exports only half of its production.” La Revue du Vin de France

“Stéphane Aladame deserves his reputation as one of the leading producers in Montagny, making Chardonnays of real character and balance.” Decanter Magazine

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