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2013 Bourgogne Blanc, Vieilles Vignes Jean-Philippe Fichet
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Jean-Philippe Fichet is a grower from Meursault who is driven by the desire to make great wines. From the second you enter his immaculate cave you know there will be serious wine to be found. The spotless converted barn close by l'Hôpital in Meursault is airconditioned and provides a welcome relief from his scattered and cramped conditions of a few years ago.
Jean-Philippe's father bottled a few wines himself but mostly sold in bulk. The Bourgogne Blanc, Meursault Criots, Gruyaches and Puligny Montrachet Referts come from him. The other wines are on share-cropping agreements with various owners. Fichet’s big step forward came in 2000 when he moved the whole operation to splendid cellars at ‘Le Creux du Coche’ by the Hôpital de Meursault where he has been able to oversee all aspects of vinification and maturation with much greater efficiency. He has a negociant’s licence to enable him to buy the owners part of the wines he makes under the share-cropping system, as well as his brother’s and sister’s vines.
Jean-Philippe is looking for purity in his wines. He uses whole bunches when the grapes are fully ripe, but crushes some in less ripe years before pressing. The juice is left to settle for 12 hours and the fine lees are retained. They may occasionally be stirred but as gently as possible. The lesser wines are raised in demi-muids for the first year, then assembled in tank. The single vineyard wines receive 18 months in barrels which range from new to 6 years old with a maximum of 30% new barrels on any cuvée.
He deals mostly with lieux-dits in Meursault with just one 1er Cru in Puligny. Constantly experimenting and refining, his wines have real definition and individuality,with the individual terroirs clearly exposed. Les Chevalières is the most mineral and austere of his wines and rewards keeping for between 5-10 years.
Though this is essentially a white wine domaine there are also red wines from the appellations Bourgogne Rouge, Côte de Beaune Villages and Monthélie.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
Bourgogne Blanc is the appellation used to refer to generic white wines from Burgundy, a wide term which allows 384 separate villages to produce a white wine with the label ‘Bourgogne.’ As a result of this variety, Bourgogne Blanc is very hard to characterise with a single notable style, however the wines are usually dominated by the presence of Chardonnay, which is just about the only common factor between them. That being said, Chardonnay itself varies based on the environmental factors, so every bottle of Bourgogne Blanc will vary in some way from the next! Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are also permitted for use in Bourgogne Blanc under the regulations of the appellation.
As Bourgogne Blanc is very much an entry-level white wine for most regions in Burgundy, prices are usually very reasonable, and due to the terroir and climate of Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc wines tend to have a strong acidity to them, combined with a vibrant and often fruity palate when compared with other whites from the New World, say, allowing fantastic matchmaking with many different kinds of food.