Chassagne-Montrachet is an enigma. It is thought of as one of the "big three" white wine villages of the Cote-de-Beaune, a member of the Holy Trinity if you will, along with Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. Through the ages, though, this has been red wine territory - except its northernmost extremity the "hill of Montrachet" where Chassagne claims approximately half of the Grand Crus Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet, as well as Les Criots-Batard-Montrachet in its entirety. It has only been very recently (from a historical perspective) that Chassagne-Montrachet has produced more white wine than red, a transition that began with the re-planting after phylloxera - led by the greater popularity of white wines in the region.
Covering a large area, with some twenty premier crus of varying aspects, altitudes and soils, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what Chassagne-Montrachet is or should be. Knowing the individual vineyards is helpful, but of course knowing the producer is critical. However, some generalizations can be made. Chassagne-Montrachet tends to be more generous than Puligny-Montrachet, but lacks Puligny's finesse and breed. And though rich and mouthfilling, Chassagne is not as broad and honeyed as Meursault. What Chassagne offers is an effusive personality exhibiting ripe yellow and green fruits, spice and sometimes floral nuances. Some of the bigger, denser Chassagnes also exhibit subtle hints of eath and clay. They mature with sophisticated depth, complexity and character.
The reds feature pure, red cherries typical of the Cote-de-Beaune with a precise framework of acidity. Complexity often comes with a touch of rusticity - perhaps some earth, mushroom or sous bois. In recent years, the best producers have been working to tame the wine's more angular qualities, successfully fashioning wines of greater sophistication, suppleness and generosity.
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