Domaine Laurent Cognard Montagny Le Vieux Chateau, Burgundy, France 2011
Overview of the Wine
Laurent Cognard's parents and grandparents sold the grapes from their small vineyard in Buxy to local cooperatives. Laurent began domaine bottling his family's wines in 1997, returning each year for harvest, but also working as a wine seller in Lyon and Paris. He returned to Buxy permanently in 2006 and today farms 26 acres of vines in the appellations of Montagny, Mercurey, and Pouilly-Loché. The specialty of the domaine is white wine made in a fresh and balanced style, though a small amount of Mercurey rouge is also produced. Laurent practices lutte raisonée (“reasoned struggle”) and is converting to organic farming.
The region of Côte Chalonnaise extends 25 kilometers from the southern end of the Côte d'Or to the Mâconnais in the south. The region includes five village appellations: Bouzeron (white wine from Aligoté), Rully, Givry, Mercurey (white, rosé, and red wines), and Montagny (white wine only). The soil is like the Côte de Beaune with weathered limestone and clay, but lacks the protection from wind provided by the Côte d’Or's escarpment. Laurent Cognard's 26 acres are spread across Bissey-sous-Cruchaud (for Crémant de Bourgogne), Montagny, Mercurey, and a small holding Pouilly-Loché in the Mâconnais.
Grapes are hand-harvested and brought to the cellar in Buxy where natural yeasts are used for fermentation whenever possible. Eighty percent of the white-wine fermentations occur in barrel using a combination of 228-liter Burgundian pièce and 500-liter puncheons. Various percentages of new oak is used for the premier crus. Laurent works to minimize the frequency of bâtonnage because it contributes too much heaviness. "We’re not trying to make bodybuilder wines here," says Laurent, "our goal is to make wines you can drink." The Pinot Noir is destemmed to 90% and undergoes both punch-downs and pumping during its vinification. The resulting wines show an extraordinary degree of purity, freshness, and fruit.
Grape / Blend
White wines from the Côte Chalonnaise are sometimes leaner and tarter than those from the Côte de Beaune despite being further south. The hilly terrain draws in cool westerly winds which delays ripening and brings freshness to the wines. Limestone soils give an underpinning of minerality and oak aging lends warmth and texture.
White Burgundy, with its rich texture and toasted flavors, pairs well with white fish and shellfish, and its naturally high acidity can counterbalance cream-based sauces. Oak-aging lends itself well to grilled fish, starches, butter, and toasted nuts.