Cool and restrained aromas include those of apple essence, spice and smoky petrol. The delicious and attractively textured medium-bodied flavours possess better volume if not quite the same refinement on the lemony, nicely dry and compact tightly wound finish. This will need at least a few years of cellaring to unwind.
Drink from 2028 onward
Allen Meadows, Burghound.com (June 2022)
The 2020 Chassagne-Montrachet Vergers 1er Cru from vines located on the Saint-Aubin side on shallow soils, has wonderful mineralité on the nose, crushed rock filtering through the citrus fruit. The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, taut and fresh, lively and spicy on the finish with veins of stem ginger. I love this...you will too.
Céline Fontaine took me through the domaine’s whites and reds because her partner, Frédéric Robert, who departed his nine-to-five at Armand Rousseau in 2018, was busy working around the winery. We had a brief chat about the 2021 vintage. Fontaine told me how she put candles in the Clos Saint-Murées and not Clos Saint-Jean and saw the difference it made, and also how stone walls countered the frost damage. Thinking back to 2020, Fontaine said, “We decided to pick the reds by tasting the berries. We started on August 20. The yield was high, but not as much as 2018, with good levels for the Chardonnay. For the reds, there was a little more than 2019. It was warm, so that concentrated the fruit by maybe 5% to 10%. We prune the Chassagne-Montrachet using Cordon Royat, which gives less juice.”
First off, I have to say that these were the finest reds I have encountered from Fontaine-Gagnard. The red Chassagnes appear to have done quite well in 2020 and they conveyed a sense of Pinoté and freshness that I greatly admired. The whites, which had all been bottled (as usual, they see just one winter in barrel), are mostly excellent, especially those such as Boudriotte, Les Caillerets and La Romanée, from vines higher up the incline and located on more limestone-rich soils. The only anomaly was the Montrachet, which I feel was outplayed by the Bâtard- and Criots-Montrachet. This is a producer that has really upped its game in the last five or six years.
Drink 2024 - 2048
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (December 2021)
About this WINE
Richard Fontaine is married to Laurence, daughter of Jacques Gagnard. The have now been joined by their daughter Céline. They have ten hectares in all with the usual, for Chassagne, extensive range of premiers crus (Bois de Chassagne, La Boudriotte, En Cailleret, les Chenevottes, Clos de Murées monopole, Clos St-Jean, La Maltroie, Morgeot, La Romanée and Les Vergers in white, Morgeot and Clos St-Jean in red). There are futher reds such as Volnay Clos des Chênes and Pommard Les Rugiens, but the jewels in the crown are small holdings of grand cru white Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet (0.33 hectare), Bâtard-Montrachet (0.30 hectare) and Le Montrachet (0.08 hectare).
When it comes to the world's greatest white wines, the border between Chassagne and Puligny is the ‘X’ that marks the spot, the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Within a few hundred metres lie five wonderful Grands Crus, three of which are in Chassagne. They are led by the luscious, perfumed but variable Le Montrachet, to which Chassagne gained permission in 1879, along with Puligny, to hyphenate its name.Both Montrachet and the rich, nutty, honeyed Bâtard-Montrachet are shared between Chassagne and Puligny. The fragrant, very fine and rare Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet however, lies entirely within Chassagne's borders. The Grands Crus have their own appellations, which is why Chassagne (or Puligny) does not appear on the label.
Although the most southerly of the three great names of the Côte de Beaune, Chassagne's style is often described as lying between that of Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault: less fine than Puligny, less rich than Meursault but containing elements of both. Chassagne is minerally yet succulent, and often floral with hints of hazelnuts. Despite a bevy of very good Premiers Crus, it is not as good or famous, overall, as Meursault and Puligny, but it is usually extremely good value. Grands Crus should not be opened before eight years of age, and can last for 20 or more. Premiers Crus are at their best from five to 15 years of age; village wines from three to eight.
Perhaps surprisingly, given that the name ‘Montrachet’ is so synonymous with white wine, much of the soil in Chassagne is more suited to Pinot Noir than Chardonnay. Indeed it was only really in the second half of the 20th century that white wines began to dominate here. The reds have a firm tannic style that needs time to soften, with the best examples coming from the Premiers Crus Morgeot, Boudriotte and Clos-St Jean. At their best they combine the weight of the Côte de Nuits with the suppleness of the Côte de Beaune.
- 180 hectares of village Chassagne-Montrachet
- 159 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards. Several of the larger ones are subdivided and may be cited under various different names. The best include Caillerets, Ruchottes, Chaumées, La Boudriotte
- 11 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Le Montrachet (part), Bâtard-Montrachet (part) and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet
- Recommended producers: Ramonet, Niellon
- Recommended restaurant: Le Chassagne (good cuisine and wine list)
Chardonnay is often seen as the king 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.