Le Montrachet is a grand cru vineyard in the southern Côte de Beaune that is widely considered to be the world's best for Chardonnay. It is located on the midslope of the Montrachet hill above the villages of Puligny- and Chassagne-Montrachet, covering land in both communes. Its wines, considered the ultimate expression of Chardonnay, are rich and structured and can sell for thousands of dollars a bottle.
The vineyard lies in the middle of the hill's five grand cru vineyards – Chevalier-Montrachet is on the hillside above, while Bâtard-Montrachet covers the slopes below. Montrachet is the second largest of the five sites, covering about 9 hectares (20 acres) of land, and is divided by the commune boundary between Puligny-Montrachet and its southern neighbor Chassagne-Montrachet. Unusually, this divide is actually visible in the way that Le Montrachet's vines are planted – the Chassagne section follows an east–west orientation, while the vines on the Puligny side run from north to south.
Le Montrachet has the prime position on the hill. The vines are perfectly angled southeast, giving them the exposure to the sunshine that is so important to the ripening process. The slope of the vineyard, along with the pebbly limestone soils, allows for excellent water management as well, letting excess water drain freely but retaining enough so that the vines stay hydrated. The vines will grow deep root systems into the limestone to access this water, making them strong and healthy, as well as contributing to the flavor of the eventual wine.
The first mention of Montrachet came in the 13th Century, when the site was donated to the local Benedictine abbey. It grew in fame and prestige over the centuries, and was confiscated and sold during the French Revolution. In the late 19th Century, both Puligny and Chassagne added Montrachet to their village name, as was the custom at the time – Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée all did the same thing. Le Montrachet was made an appellation in 1937, around the same time as most of Burgundy's other top grand cru vineyards.
Today, the Le Montrachet vineyard has a number of different proprietors making some of the most famous white wines in the world. Bouchard Père et Fils and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti have plots in the vineyard, and Domaine Leflaive and Joseph Drouhin make some of Montrachet's most prestigious and highly collectible wines.