We have been great fans of the beautifully crafted Vezelay wines of the La Cadette for some time after first noticing them on the wine list at iconic Paris restaurant Le Chateaubriand. We have visited Jean and Catherine Montanet and their son Valentin on a number of occasions since then in the small village of St Pére near Vézelay and have always been inspired by the quality of their wines and the precision of the winemaking.
There are three businesses which they operate. La Soeur Cadette is the umbrella name for their business and the wines are all made by Valentin Montanet.
The names of the three Vézelay wines – La Cadette Vézelay La Châtelaine, Montanet-Thoden Vézelay Galerne and La Sœur Cadette Vézelay – reflect the three different prongs of the Montanets’ enterprise.
Domaine de la Cadette was created by Jean Montanet and his wife Catherine in the late 1980s when they began to plant vines in their small village of Saint-Père, close to Vézelay.
Mentored by Bernard Raveneau and inspired to make natural wine by Marcel Lapierre, from the beginning Jean and Catherine’s wines were notable for the drinkability and, in the whites, saline minerality.
We’re sure their wines are an important part of the story which saw Vézelay relatively recently recognised as a village level appellation, with the same status as Pommard, Volnay and other hallowed names, but only for white wines.
It’s a recognition of the effect of the Kimmeridgian limestone which features, with clay, in these vineyards, which are not too far from Chablis.
Wines with the label La Cadette are from these vines that were part of the original Domaine de la Cadette. As well as the La Châtelaine, which we have in this release, another white Vézelay, Les Saulniers, is also part of these original planting as well as the red wines Ermitage and Champs-Cadet.
In 2000 Catherine Montanet established a new domaine in partnership with a Dutch friend Tom Thoden, consisting in part of vines which had been in Catherine’s family. Called Montanet-Thoden it consists now of 8 hectares of somewhat similar limestone and clay terroir (its clay is slightly heavier than the Domaine de la Cadette soils and so it retains what little water there was slightly more effectively), planted predominantly with Chardonnay, which is used to make the cuvée Vézelay Galerne, which we have in this shipment. The second Montanet-Thoden cuvée, made from Pinot Noir, is Garance.
The third label in the family triumvirate is La Sœur Cadette – the name for the third Vézelay wine. As well as now being the name of the umbrella business, La Sœur Cadette (the sister of Cadette) was created as a négoce label for wines made from purchased grapes.
Initially this was for wines made with local grapes, most particularly a Melon de Bourgogne we have had many times but, like many Burgundy vignerons, the Montanets have expanded the négoce to other regions as insurance against continuing disasters, most particularly late frosts. The frosts are so much more damaging now because the winters are warmer and the flowering more advanced. This is a négoce cuvée from highly-prized terroir.
These domaines practice organic viticulture, use no pesticides or herbicides in the vineyard and no additives in the winemaking process. The grapes are fermented using only the naturally occurring yeasts.
If you visit St Pére you can’t miss their public cellar door just at the entrance to the village. At various times of the year, especially in summer they have soirees in an adjacent wine bar. They advertise them on the facebook page for Le Pied dans Le Plat.
You can check the availability of these Cadette wines on our page which lists wines that are currently available here.
La Cadette Vézelay La Châtelaine 2022
La Châtelaine is one of La Cadette’s best cuvées made from the only permitted white grape variety in the newly upgraded Vézelay appellation, namely Chardonnay.
The appellation was previously Bourgogne Vézelay but was promoted to Vézelay due to the superior quality of the white wines in this region.
The wine comes from grapes from the vineyards on the pretty south-facing slopes of the Vézelay hills which range in age from 25 to 30 years old and which are organically certified. The soil is clay and limestone.
The grapes are harvested by hand and then direct pressed then fermented naturally in stainless steel tanks and two large foudre where the wine is left to mature for 8 to 10 months on lees. The wine undergoes a light, vegan-friendly filtration before being bottled with minimal sulphites added.
This is a beautifully-textured wine, showing that white wines of considerable elegance can be produced in this region.
All of the La Cadette wines are made with skill and care and result in clean, clear, flavoursome wines of great elegance. Rarely do you find such consistency of flavour and texture as in the wines of this domaine.
It is easy to determine why many of the great restaurants of Europe including Le Chateaubriand and others stock the wines of this domaine.
Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne Vézelay Les Saulniers 2020
Les Saulniers is another white cuvée made entirely from Chardonnay.
The Les Saulniers vineyard is a beautiful parcel of land situated on an old road once used by salt smugglers, who extracted contraband salt from the water at the nearby “Fontaines Salées”. The vines are beautifully tended and show strength from their organic treatment.
This wine was bottled after spending approximately six months in vats.
It has a liveliness and freshness that is very appealing for such an elegant wine. The finish is very long and interesting.
It is one of the best Chardonnay wines from the northern area of Burgundy that we have tried. It has elegance, flavour, a beautiful acid backbone and lots of structure.
RRP: $55 (SOLD OUT)
La Soeur Cadette Vézelay 2021
This beautiful, organic white wine has been released under the new Vézelay appellation which is only for white wines grown in a restricted number of communes based around the village of Vézelay.
It is made from 100% Chardonnay as required by the rules of this new appellation.
This wine has been assembled by La Soeur Cadette from grapes harvested from the very best terroir in their Vézelay vineyards. The Kimmeridgean limestone and clay creates a wonderful soil that Chardonnay absolutely loves which is partly why this is a white wine only appellation.
RRP: $84 (SOLD OUT)
La Soeur Cadette Bourgogne Blanc 2022
The Bourgogne Blanc from La Sœur Cadette is made with Mâconnais Chardonnay gapes (from the communes of Uchizy and Peronne). It is made entirely from purchased grapes and is fresh and it very easy to drink.
The wine is directly pressed and the juice transferred to large steel tanks where it remains until ready to bottle (usually about 8 to 10 months). The whites from Cadette are always clean, clear, sharp, energetic and a delight to drink. It is rare to find a White Burgundy at this price any more – but this one is a steal at the price.
La Soeur Cadette Bourgogne Rouge 2022
La Sœur Cadette Bourgogne Rouge is from vines in Blanot (between Tournus and Mâcon) and from Saint- Père, where the Montanets are from. As with most red cuvées, approximately 1/3 of the grapes are macerated as whole bunches and the rest are destemmed. It is aged for approximately 8 months in a mix of tank and old barrels.
This is a beautiful red Burgundy displaying elegance and charm as well as being quite energetic. It has plenty of structure but is in no way aggressive, but rather soothing and graceful.
Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne l’Ermitage Rouge 2018
This Domaine de la Cadette wine is made primarily from Pinot Noir (80%), but it also has 20% of the rare César grape that is permitted in the Yonne region of Burgundy. This grape has been grown in this area since Roman times (hence the name).
This wine is therefore quite a rarity because of the inclusion of a grape variety that is permitted in this part of Burgundy but is rarely spoken about.
César is permitted only in the communes in the Yonne department and very little wine from this area makes its way to Australia. However this wine definitely benefits from the inclusion of this spicy grape variety. We love it.
The vines grow on a very steep south-facing slope, in the rural district of Vézelay at a placed called l’Ermitage after which the wine is named.
This is a beautiful, savoury Burgundy with a lingering finish and with a hint of the exotic from the use of the César grape.
RRP: $54 (SOLD OUT)
La Cadette Bourgogne Champs Cadet Rouge 2017
While we originally approached the Montanet’s because of their white wines, we soon discovered that their red wines are equally as delicious. This red Burgundy is made from 100% Pinot Noir even though small quantities of the César grape are permitted in this region.
The Champs Cadet vineyard is one of Cadette’s most remote and difficult with lots of stones littering the surface. This is a lovely wine with a velvet texture provided by maturation in old oak barrels, but also with the trademark freshness that makes these natural wines so appealing.
Here is what a recent edition of the Kermit Lynch newsletter had to say about this wine:
“Renowned here in France, especially in Parisian wine bars, for its Vézelay blanc, Domaine de La Cadette makes this bottling under the generic Bourgogne rouge appellation, yet this is no generic Pinot Noir. It is from an organically farmed, stone-littered parcel isolated in the forests behind Vézelay. A sip of it is a veritable autumnal walk through the woods you’ll find earth, wild cherries, and trompette de la mort mushrooms in there. Try to find that in your average over-cropped, wrong side of the RN74 Bourgogne rouge!”
RRP: $54 (SOLD OUT)
La Soeur Cadette Vin de France Melon de Bourgogne Blanc 2022
The first time we tried a wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety from this domaine we were amazed by the purity of the fruit and the depth of flavour (this was at the iconic Paris restaurant, Le Chateaubriand).
This grape is common in the Muscadet appellations found around Nantes near the Atlantic coast, however it has almost disappeared from Burgundy. We knew that there were very few producers of this wine left in Burgundy and even fewer who practice organic agriculture.
This wine is a great favourite of ours especially given the price, considering how little is produced. It is a perfect food wine marrying well with many flavours, but it comes into its own with terrines, parfaits, charcuterie and other light meat dishes.
The grapes were hand harvested from 30 year old vines, which are certified organic and have been for many years.
Aged in stainless steel for 8 to 10 months before a light vegan-friendly filtration and then bottling with minimal addition of sulphites.
La Soeur Cadette Mâcon Chardonnay 2018
The La Soeur Cadette Mâcon is a true négoce wine, made with purchased grapes from the north of Mâcon from vines which thrive in the Uchizy and Peronne communes. The vines are around 30 years old and grow in very rocky vineyards of clay and limestone.
This wine is not certified organic, but Valentin, who visits the vineyard each year, has assured us the farming is organic. Valentin and his team pick the grapes and take them back to Saint Pere to make the wine.
Therefore the wine is labelled with their ‘negoce’ La Soeur Cadette designation. This is all due to the rules laid down by the French wine authorities.
As a result, this is a very beautiful wine made entirely from Chardonnay grapes with a small amount (3%) of a rare grape called Muscaté, which is a cross between Chardonnay and Muscat, which are aged in stainless steel tanks for 8 to 10 months. It is also a very reasonable price for such a pure white Burgundy.
Note that Valentin has two wines from the Mâcon, both made from Chardonnay, with the only difference being that the grapes are sourced from two different organic vineyards. One is issued under the Mâcon Villages appellation and this one as Mâcon Chardonnay.
RRP: $47 (SOLD OUT)
La Soeur Cadette Juliénas 2021
As with the Chénas described above this is also a wine released under their négoce label La Soeur Cadette because the grapes were purchased, not grown on the estate.
Juliénas is a cru region of Beaujolais with the magic granitic soils and this wine is a beautiful expression of that region. The grapes for this wine were picked from very old vines (70 to 90 years old) in the communes of Juliénas and neighouring Jullié.
The grapes were then transferred to a refrigerated truck to take them to Vézelay. The grapes then underwent whole bunch carbonic maceration and were then pressed and the juice was transferred to 40 hectolitre wooden foudre for the wine to mature for 9 months.
The wine was then transferred to steel tanks to allow the sediment to settle for a month before the juice was carefully siphoned off and bottled.
The end result is a great wine which was bottled with only minimal sulphites and no fining or filtering.
Domaine Montanet-Thoden Vézelay Cuvee Galerne Blanc 2022
Domaine Montanet-Thoden is Catherine’s domaine but the vineyards are maintained by the same people and the wines are made by the same crew that make the Cadette wines.
The vines are only twenty years old but are already producing excellent fruit due to the organic cultivation and the presence of lots of limestone in the clay soils. It is a great place for fossil hunting!
This is a lively 100% Chardonnay packed with white flowers and impressive minerality backed by a bracing acidity and beautiful, rounded flavour. The grapes are hand-picked and then pressed very gently. It was fermented in stainless steel using wild yeasts to provide added complexity.
Notice on the label for this white wine there is no longer the Bourgogne Vézelay appellation because the white wines made in the Vézelay, Asquins, Saint-Père and Tharoiseau communes have been “promoted” to the same level as Volnay and Pommard for example, where they are permitted to just display the name of the lead commune, namely Vézelay. This is recognition of the quality of the white wines being produced here.
Montanet-Thoden Bourgogne Cuvée Garance Rouge 2020
This red is from Catherine’s Montanet-Thoden vineyards and is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.
This Burgundy is a very good example of a red wine from the Vézelay region. The end result is influenced by the fossilised limestone soils that are found here – giving the wines a lively minerality. Remember that this vineyard is just to the south of Chablis and shares some of the famous limestone from that region.
The grapes for this wine are hand picked from the small plots of vines. Valentin has implemented a different approach to the making of this wine which is interesting. They now harvest the grapes in two “batches”. One is destemmed, pressed and fermented in tanks with native yeasts and then matured in old barrels. The other is left as whole bunches placed in tanks and undergoes semi-carbonic maceration before the juice is transferred to old barrels.
The two batches are then combined in tanks and left for a month for the sediment to settle prior to bottling. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration and with only a minimal amount of sulphites added.
And, by the way, the wine is named after a blue flower that is found within the vineyard. The flower has red roots from which the colour used to be extracted to make a dye. This was used in World War 1 to make red trousers for French soldiers.
RRP: $60 (SOLD OUT)