Spring frost – A Burgundian winemaker’s battle

Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet vineyard: Paraffin-fuelled burners (known as candles) in smudge pots provide protection against frost

Raymond Blake on winemakers’ battle against dreaded spring frosts in Burgundy – just one of the many nasty curveballs that nature hurls from time to time

Puligny-Montrachet. White wine doesn’t get more patrician than this. Indeed, if ever a wine village were to be designated as the capital of Chardonnay it would be difficult to look past the claims of Puligny-Montrachet village in the Côte de Beaune. The neighbours to north and south – Meursault and Chassagne – might not agree but, valid as their claims might be, in my view Puligny just shades it. As I wrote in my book Côte d’Or a few years ago: “Whatever your feelings about the rival claims of Meursault and Chassagne, Puligny is generally regarded as the village where the Chardonnay grape reaches its apogee. Refinement and restraint, opulence held in check by civilized acidity, sumptuous flavours that never obtrude, succulent fruit counterpoised by mild minerality, integration — harmony — structure — polished power. These wines have breed and plenty of it. A great Puligny has it all…”

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