2020 Marsannay Rouge, Cuvée Saint-Urbain, Domaine Jean Fournier, Burgundy
Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy (January 2022)
Allen Meadows, Burghound.com (Jan 2022)
About this WINE
Domaine Jean Fournier
Laurent Fournier has achieved a lot since taking charge of the domaine established by his father, Jean, in the 1960s.
In 2011, he was voted the Côte de Nuits’ young vigneron of the year; he has since dedicated much of his considerable energy campaigning to establish Premiers Crus in Marsannay, which is home to a number of his single-vineyard reds.
The domaine is currently undergoing reconversion to organic certification. Laurent ploughs his vineyards by horse.
Burgundy never quite achieved its political ambitions of being a kingdom in its own right, but for many, the region produces some of the most regal red and white wines in the world.
In Burgundy there are 100 different appellations, numerous individual vineyards and more than 3,000 individual producers. Around 15 million cases are produced annually from 26,500ha of vines in Burgundy, which is usually sub-divided into five regions: Chablis in the Yonne department; the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune in the department of the Côte d'Or; and the Chalonnais and Mâconnais in the Saone-et-Loire.
The world's most famous white wine grape may have originated in Burgundy, where there’s a village called Chardonnay (near Mâcon). This marvellous, full-bodied grape responds well to barrel ageing and can produce wines of great complexity that can age for decades. More often than not though, in recent times, the wines are better enjoyed in their youth. The simpler white wines of Chablis to the north, and the Mâconnais in the south, are usually made in stainless steel to preserve freshness.
The heartland for white Burgundy is the Côte de Beaune with its three great villages, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Here the vineyard classification system really comes into its own. On the flattest land, the wines will be classed only as generic Bourgogne Blanc; as the slope begins to rise, the wines are designated by the name of their village. At mid-slope, the finest vineyards (whose wines are bottled separately) are categorised as Premier Cru (eg Les Charmes) or Grand Cru (Le Montrachet).
Though attractive wines can be found in the Côte Chalonnais (Mercurey, Givry), the great red wines of Burgundy are found in the Côte d'Or. The line of magical villages which constitutes the Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-St Georges is practically a roll call of great names. The Côte de Beaune competes through such gems as Volnay and Pommard, which are adjacent yet contrasting villages: lacy elegance for the wines of Volnay, while sturdy and more structured in those from Pommard.
Whereas Burgundy used to be considered a veritable minefield because of the complexity of choice, these days it is more of a playground for the adventurous wine lover, thanks to the vast increase in number of quality-conscious, properly-trained producers.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
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This is a blend of vineyards around Marsannay, along with 10- to 30-year-old vines from the best sites of Clos du Roy, Longeroies and Es Chezots, aged in 500-litre barrels. There’s 30% whole-bunch this year; the wine is fresh, juicy and straightforward, with no suggestion of heat or drought. It’s a welcoming introduction to the joys of Marsannay. Drink 2022-2029.
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