Montagny is a pretty village and an excellent though not too expensive white Appellation Controllee on the Côte Chalonnais.
Always a favourite of mine for its reliability and versatility... and its relative affordability!.... I still remember as a young wine merchant in the 70's wandering through the village with a list of recent medal-winners, banging on doors, asking if any of them wanted me to sell their wine in the UK. None did. Burgundy is difficult that way.
Chateau de Saule. It dominates the place.
Alain didn't actually live there; his mother did. I never actually met her - I would scuttle in the back way to the cellars. By all accounts she was a very severe lady of the old school. And Alain was a naughty boy. Still is. You can tell that just looking at him.
But Alain made the wine and did it well. We seemed to be kindred spirits so I got my precious Montagny at last.
Every trip I call in, we do the cellar. He hadn't been keen on barrels - he was a purist tank man - so one year, I offered to pay for his first barrels... and the result converted him.
I never cease to remind him it was me showed him how to make wine and he always then tells me just where I can shove...etc. ...then he rustles up a nice 100% meat meal in the old stately home and we put the world to rights. (Mother is no longer with us).
I took a rather superior Aussie winemaker to Alain's once. One of those who think only the New World does things properly and that French winemakers are probably dodgy. He tasted and asked the usual questions about degree, acidity, colour levels etc. When Alain gave him the numbers, every time he queried. "Oui, mais..Naturel"? Alain managed to answer politely three times then lost it, drew himself up to full height - admittedly not a great height - and assured the man, "you ask me one more time, I place the toe of my boot up your 'fesses' so you can know exactly how 'natural' that is"!
It broke the ice! Now 'Naturel' is his and Bernard's catchphrase.
Every year - except this, sadly - Alain and Bernard turn up at our London show where they now have a big fan base. They pour like crazy till everything is gone then head out, giggling, into the London night. I have no idea what they get up to.
Great visit today. His '09's are cracking stuff.
But it was all too quick; we had to get back and all dolled up for The Big Night.