In the village of Saint-Père, along a little creek to the southeast of Vézelay in Burgundy, a quiet, peaceful revolution is taking place. This part of Burgundy has been producing wines for centuries, although as much as half of the entire appellation’s production is being sold off to the local cave cooperative. In 1987, Jean and Catherine Montanet, with the help of friends and family, created Domaine de la Cadette. Cadette, or the youngest child, is a nod to Catherine, whose family’s vineyards contribute to the domaine’s production. It took them ten years to clear land and replant vineyards. By 1997, the I.N.A.O. (Institut National des Appellations d’Origines) had awarded Vézelay its own A.O.C; a timely decision that lends more credibility to the noble work of the Montanets. Jean and Catherine farm thirteen hectares of vineyards today, and have been farming organically since 1999, receiving their certification in 2002. This is a particularly bold decision in an area where most wine is sold in bulk.
The vineyard land sits deep in the Morvan, the great mountain range that runs west by northwest of the famous Côte d’Or. The land here is quite exceptional. The creation of the granite massif of the Morvan has uplifted a marl and limestone strata, revealing fossilized marine deposits. Though Vézelay is a geographic appendage of Chablis, the soils are not exactly the same. The climate here is cooler, too. Instead of the Kimmerdigian soils, the clays here range from blue and gray to red, sometimes with no clay at all but just shallow limestone. In this cooler climate, their vines enjoy great sun exposure, lending a balance between generous fruit and deep mineral structure. That the wines from Vézelay have gone largely unnoticed until recently may certainly be attributed to an underwhelming production of forgettable wines, however Domaine de la Cadette stands proudly as a beacon of change, representing the most sincere expression of their terroirs with grace and integrity. Though they are best known for their Bourgogne Vézelay, a Chardonnay, their Bourgogne Rouge and their Melon de Bourgogne are also equally remarkable.