RIP Hubert de Montille


4 Nov update – I saw Jean-Marc Roulot yesterday who told me that apparently Hubert died at dinner in Alsace on one of his regular trips with Aubert and Pamela de Villaine. Rugiens 1999 and 1985 (or was it 1995?) were served and he was asked for his opinion of the vintages. And that was that. What a way to go! Jean-Marc told me the funeral is set for 2.30pm this Friday in Beaune.

Very sad news that Hubert de Montille of Volnay, one of Burgundy's most outspoken and talented characters, drank his last today. Those who saw the documentary film Mondovino may remember him for his no holds barred pronouncements.

The most extraordinary thing is how many different beautiful photographic portraits of him have been published already on Twitter. Ours was taken by Burgundy specialist photographer Jon Wyand, whom we thank. 

Hubert de Montille is survived by his son Étienne, who runs the Ch de Puligny-Montrachet as well as the family de Montille domaine, and daughter Alix, married to Jean-Marc Roulot of Meursault, who is responsible, inter alia, for the Deux Montille bottlings.

I knew that Phillip Moraghan of excellent Australian producer of Burgundian varietals (sic) Curly Flat had spent a bit of time with Hubert de Montille while doing a vintage in Burgundy so wrote to pass on the news. This is what he wrote back:

Thank you for the email advising of the passing of Hubert. Sad news, but not unexpected.

If one was to ask him of thoughts on his 84 years of life, I suspect he would answer, simply, 'Pas mal!'

That seemed to be his favourite answer; whether it be a question of his health, the wine, the food or the cheese.

Although only knowing him for the three months I spent with the domaine for the 2011 vintage, I got to know Hubert quite well. He was very patient with my basic French and taught me much, of the history of Burgundy, the appellation system, his years of crafting his Volnay and Pommard wines. And he was very interested in what I was doing at Curly Flat and enjoyed tasting my wines and discussing them with me.

Hubert enjoyed company and was a regular visitor to the Meursault cave. Most nights he would join us for dinner. Two of us would minimise our wine intake so we could take Hubert and his vehicle back to his home in Volnay. He would encourage all of us to express our views on the many wines we would share over the dinners. One had the feeling that you were in the presence of someone special, someone whose veins flowed with burgundy.

If Hubert did pass on whilst enjoying a 1999 Les Rugiens, then either Etienne softened on his policy of limiting Hubert’s access to the cellar at Volnay, or Hubert finally got a key.

My 2011 vintage with Domaine de Montille was all the more memorable for the many enjoyable hours in the company of Hubert de Montille.

Thank you asking for my thoughts on the great man.