Jean Noel Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes

Jean Noel Gagnard

2018
Chassagne-Montrachet

The 2018 vintage started with good levels of winter rainfall, replenishing the soil moisture content. After a cold February and a rainy March, conditions in April were warm and dry, allowing the vineyard growth to catch up after the earlier delays. Flowering occurred under perfect conditions and summer brought consiste tly warm, sunny days through to harvest, which took place on August 26th. This famous domaine has been run by Caroline Lestimé, JeanNoël’s daughter, since 1989. Its 12.5 hectares of outstanding vineyards have been certified organic since 2014, and are now run biodynamically, though are not yet certified as such. Most of the estate’s vineyards are in the heart of Chassagne, with one vineyard in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, which looks down on St. Aubin and was planted in 2015. The wines are, in the best sense of the phrase, ‘low intervention’ wines, with each expressing the character of its site.
The ‘Les Chaumes’ vineyard borders Premier Cru ‘La Boudriotte’ at an altitude of 300 metres above sea level, lending excellent freshness to the wines. The vines are east-facing, Guyot-trained and planted on stony calcareous clay soil. The vines are certified organic and are enriched with biodynamic composts at the end of every winter. The grapes were hand-sorted in the winery before being wholebunch pressed. Fermentation took place using native yeasts in oak barrels, of which 30% were new. The wine was aged for 15 months in oak before bottling. On tasting, as on location, the ‘Les Chaumes’ is very much of a ‘superior’ villages. It boasts aromas of white flowers, stone fruits and toasted almonds. On the palate, the concentration of flavour gives the wine a rich texture. A Puligny-like acid on the finish cuts through the intense fruit flavours giving the wine lovely balance.

'It’s aromatically compact now, but will soon burst open with energetic and juicy fruit. Drink up to 2027. Delicious combination of freshness and ripe, peachy fruit, the result of a hillside vineyard in a concentrated year.' David Green, Petersham Cellar

"Has a feisty nose with hints of wild fennel infusing the citrus fruit, complemented by orange peel and smoky aromas. The palate is balanced with crisp acidity on the entry. The acidity is well judged here and it counterbalances a touch of viscosity towards the finish, which is armed with lovely peach and freshly sliced pear notes. Delightful." 91 points, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

'On the nose fine fruit and minerality, with notes of citrus, acacia, wet rocks and a hint of exotic orchard fruits. On the palate very fine and crisp acidity, a good midpalate concentration with lovely silky fruit. It’s a charming wine with a fine terroir expression and a good acidity – nicely balanced by the quite rich fruit.' 93 points, Tim Atkin

Region
Variety
Chardonnay
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Burgundy

Burgundy

The Burgundy wine region in central-eastern France, near the city of Dijon, is built on centuries of winemaking tradition, with close historical links to the monasteries. Burgundy’s patchwork quilt of vineyards and associated terroirs – or ‘climats‘ – gained UNESCO world heritage status in July 2015.

Burgundy wines come from several distinct sub-regions, each with its own particular character. Four of these are located at the heart of Burgundy, in a narrow strip running for 75 miles (120km) between the towns of Dijon and Macon. From north to south they are the Cote d'Or (comprising the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune), the Cote Chalonnaise and the Maconnais.

Chablis, situated in an isolated pocket of limestone hills in north-western Burgundy, produces white wines so distinct in style from those of central Burgundy that it is often treated as a region in its own right.

The two key grape varieties of Burgundy are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both members of the extended 'Pinot' family of grape varieties. Their 'poor cousins' Gamay and Aligote are also grown throughout the region, producing more rustic styles of wine. Gamay is used in the red and rosé wines of Macon, while Aligote has its own appellation in the form of Bourgogne Aligote. In the late 14th century, the first Duke of Burgundy outlawed Gamay, dismissing it as unfit for consumption. It was still permitted within the Rhone administrative region, however, where it found a new home in Beaujolais.

The Burgundian climate is predominantly continental, with relatively short summers and cool winters, making it a challenge for the grapes to ripen fully. The greatest threats for Burgundy’s grape-growers – especially those in Chablis – are spring frosts and hail, which can cause great damage to flowering vines. The landscape here is characterized by its limestone soils, manifested either in rolling hills, steep, sharp valleys or rocky outcrops. These soils are of immense importance to the character of Burgundy’s wines, bringing a quintessential minerality and complexity – particularly to the white wines. In fact, along with considerations of orientation, it is the precise soil make-up of the best Burgundy vineyards that brings them the honor of Premier Cru or Grand Cru status

France

France – the home of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire and Champagne – is arguably the world's most important wine-producing country. For centuries, it has produced wine in greater quantity – and of reportedly greater quality – than any other nation. Wine is ingrained in French culture at almost every level of society; it is the drink of both the elite and the common people, and a key symbol in Roman Catholicism, France's majority religion.

The diversity of French wine is due, in part, to the country's wide range of climates. Champagne, its most northerly region, has one of the coolest climates anywhere in the wine-growing world – in stark contrast to the warm, dry Rhone Valley 350 miles (560km) away in the southeast. Bordeaux, in the southwest, has a maritime climate heavily influenced by the Atlantic ocean to its west and the various rivers that wind their way between its vineyards. Far from any oceanic influence, eastern regions such as Burgundy and Alsace have a continental climate, with warm, dry summers and cold winters. In France's deep south, Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon enjoy a definitively Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot summers and relatively mild winters.

France's appellation system was created in the early 20th century and has since been imitated in many other countries. This complex system of laws ultimately defines each wine region and its boundaries and imposes strict rules around winemaking practices. Protecting the names of French wines and guaranteeing the quality and provenance of the products themselves are its key objectives. No other country has developed its appellation system to such an extent; as of 2012, there were more than 450 controlled appellations under the AOC titles and a further 150 Vin de Pays/IGP titles.