Stephane Aladame’s vineyards are in Montagny in the Cote Chalonnaise, on the same type of soil found in Chablis. The wines bear a similarity as well – lean and elegant, with minerality and citrus influences – but the prices are blissfully low. There are just 300ha of vines in Montagny and only 20% of that is crafted and sold by independent vignerons. Aladame carefully and skilfully tends 6.5ha, including his beloved Les Vignes Derriere, which he inherited from his grandfather. “Stephane planted it, so we love it,” his wife Cecile explained. 80 per cent of their production is sold to wine specialist stores and 50 restaurants in France, including no fewer than seven three-star establishments. The wines are best drunk at two to five years from release, although Clive Coates and Bill Nanson have favourably reviewed 10-year-old bottles.
Says Clive Coates; “The youthful Stephane Aladame has come a long way in a very short space of time. He started in 1992 (as an 18-year-old) with 3ha he took over from an old-age pensioner. His parents had no connection with the wine business but Stephane soon established himself as one of the leading lights of the appellation.”
Burghound’s Allen Meadows is also a fan; “The young Stéphane Aladame directs this 6.5 ha domaine located in the far southern reaches of the Côte Chalonnaise; effective in 2002, he has also started a very small négociant operation to supplement his production. As is often the case here, Aladame told me that because his 2007s, except for a few cuvées, were either on their fining materials or had not finished their malos and thus were hard to taste, he would present the bulk of them on my next visit. He described 2007 as a "long harvest. We started on the 3rd of September and picked the old vines for two days and then stopped for a week because of what I thought were excessive acidities in our other parcels. We began again on the 10th and picked in steady and tranquil weather for a full 10 days. Thankfully, a perfect September saved us again because if it hadn't been great, it's hard to imagine how green and acidic the wines would have been. As to the wines, they have developed slowly but seem to improve each month. I think they will turn out to be classic wines but how good they will ultimately be, I think it's too soon to really say”.
A blend of fruit from four premier cru vineyards, aged only in stainless steel.
Jancis Robinson: Racy and super-transparent, lightweight but not lacking in flavour, and bone dry. A very attractive, super-pure style. 16.5 points, drink 2009+.
Allen Meadows: Racy, intense and detailed flavours brim with a fine minerality on the intensely citrus-infused finish that exudes energy. Appears to have everything it needs for three to four years of positive upside development. 88-91 points, drink 2011+.