Monthelie (map)is a small village of the Côte de Beaune. It lies at only 1,5 kilometer from Meursault, which looks like a small town in comparison.
The Domaine de Suremain in Monthélie must not be mistaken for the same-name estate in Mercurey (Côte Chalonnaise) and which belongs to a cousin. This Côte de Beaune winery is a 10,5-hectare family estate with deep generational roots. The name Suremain comes from the French "sure main" or "sure hand" and may have been a proof of an ancestor's craftmanship. Today's owner, Eric de Suremain, took the reins of the estate in 1978 after spending some time in wineries in the United States. The estate makes Rully 1er Cru (white and red), Monthelie red and Monthelie 1er Cru red (plus Marc de Bourgogne & Ratafia).
After a few years, Eric decided in 1996 to fully implement an organic/biodynamic farming-management. Dominique de suremain, his wife, says that when her husband began to work here in 1978, he was using chemical products in the vineyard, but had always kept grass between the rows, using weedkillers only under the vines themselves. One day he was tired of this type of conventional farming and decided to change right away (he didn't begin with trials). Thierry Guyot in St Romain was a reference for Eric de Suremain and he was his counsel when he had doubts in the early years. Eric works in the cellar and in the vineyard, and they use external farm-management companies or individuals (tâcherons) to make the various tasks in the vineyard (because of dissuading laws and costs in hiring) and they have only two permanent staff who can work both in the cellar side and in the vineyard.
Red grapes are usually 100% destemmed, and on exceptionnal years like 2005 for example they may put 20% to 30% of whole clusters. They use a vibrating sorting-table since 2008 because there was such a strong push of mildew in the vineyard that they had to sort and throw away lots of damaged grapes. They won't use this table every year but this year it was very useful. They began as every year by a vineyard of theirs which is always ripe first, their Rully Les Préaux Pinot Noir. Then usually, they go on with the whites, which follow in ripeness order, but on some years like in 2007, they actually ended with the whites. There's no fixed schema in the order, they taste, taste again, and make some analysis, three weeks before the supposed harvest date and in each vineyard block.
We arrive in a vaulted cellar with massive walls of label-less bottles continuing their elevage there. Beautiful place.
About the picture above, which was shot a couple hundreds meters from Monthelie, the Domaine-de-Suremain Sur la Velle 1er Cru climat lies just below the vineyard building (also owned by Suremain). Above the building, on the right and on the left, lie the Clou des Chênes, the climat that was recently upgraded from Villages Appellation to 1er Cru. It is also owned by Domaine de Suremain. You'll find additional information about these Monthelie climats on this Monthelie page.
__Domaine de Suremain Monthelie Villages 2006. For sale since november. A blend from several climats : Rou Magnien, les Barbières and les Riottes (now named les Hauts Bruns), a now-1er-Cru that they still vinify as a Villages. The wine is as cold as the cellar and we try to warm the glass with our hands which are themselves frozen... Fruity Pinot Noir. Nice mouth in spite of the temperature that makes the tannins more present than they should. Public price 13,5 Euro.
__Domaine de Suremain Monthelie 1er Cru Sur la Velle 2006. Nice aromatic complexity on the nose. The cold makes its opening sluggish. But very, very nice in the mouth after a moment. B. notes the finesse and the good lengh, plus the retro-olfaction with cherry notes. This year, in 2008 she says, they brought in only half of the usual harvest volume because of the damaged grapes.
__Domaine de Suremain Monthelie Villages 2005. Bottled in may 2007. Intense red, this Pinot Noir 2005 has some substance. Clove aromas, eucalyptus, spices. Ripe fruits, crushed fruits. I find the mouth less expressive in comparison, but B. notes the nice unwinding in the mouth and the silkyness. Same price as the 2006 (13,5 Euro).
__Domaine de Suremain Monthelie 1er Cru Sur la Velle 2005. Complexity and intensity. Red fruits, many aromas that the cold prevents from being fully enjoyed. More tannins than in 2006, more structure also. Nice, but this should be tasted again in 8 to 10 years, and why not 20 years, it should make it... The 2005, 2007 and 2008 vintages were pretty similar she says, with a beautiful late season.
Domaine de Suremain exports 40% to 50% of its wine, for example to the United States through Wine Without Borders and to Japan (Nouvelles Selections) through the Maison Lou Dumont in Burgundy.