Eric de Suremain (Chateau de Monthelie)
If you want to visit Eric de Suremain, you need to go and find him in the vineyards. Have a look at the picture above - he's not the jacket and tie type that hangs out at tastings and worries about wine ratings — Eric is all about his vines and his terroir and it shows in his wines which are amongst the best you will taste in the Cote de Beaune.
Monthelie is a little hamlet. It straddles the borders of Volnay and Meursault on hillside vineyards that get excellent exposure to the all important ripening sun. Stylistically, the wines are perfumed and open like Volnay but perhaps without the precision found in Volnay's best sites. I find them floral, pretty and very delicious and you can add elegance, silkiness and depth when talking about Eric de Suremain's wines
There are only about 200 people living in the village which makes it one of the smallest in Burgundy - there isn't a village center, just growers' houses winding up a hillside to the requisite church at the top of the village, all surrounded by vines. For a long time, the wines of Monthelie were part of neighbor Volnay. In fact, before Monthelie got its own appellation back in 1937, the wines were labelled as Volnay or Pommard. Eric's best Monthelie comes from a vineyard named “Sur La Velle”. It is considered the best vineyard in Monthelie and no surprise because the grapes rub shoulders with those from Volnay. It is a terrific wine.
Eric de Suremain took his vineyards biodynamic in 1996. He was way ahead of his time then and still is; he doesn’t embrace technology preferring to stick to the methode a l’ancienne. His yields are very low. His vines are old. He is restrained when it comes to new wood.
His philosophy of winemaking sounds simple, but is really profound: "there are no small vintages, it is just the balance which counts." This means that he is a flexible winemaker who adjusts for the variables in every vintage. He doesn't try to match the wine to his winemaking, he matches his winemaking to the wine, and it is that skilful balancing act that makes his wine seamless.
The wines from de Suremain are a great reminder that there still remain outstanding producers in Burgundy virtually unknown to Burgundy fans here in the Australia.
“Suremain” translates to safe hands in English; if you are looking for Bugundies that are a sure thing then these are the ones.