Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard

Burgundy, burgundy France

This famous domaine has been run by Caroline Lestimé, Jean-Noël’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 coming off that site, ‘Clos Bortier’, are now making quite a name for themselves.

Caroline’s wines are very classic. There is little ‘struck match’ character, yet the wines are tight and closed when young, furled in a ball of intense and crystalline fruit. There are no tricks; they are, in the best sense of the phrase, ‘low intervention’ wines, with each expressing the character of its site. The grapes are all whole-bunch pressed and fermented in oak, a maximum of 30% of which is new, with a very light toast. The wines spend about 18 months in oak before bottling. They display a lovely purity of fruit due to their freshness and the low toast of the oak, but have all the characteristics of wines that will blossom after a few years in bottle.

The ‘Les Chaumes’ vineyard borders Premier Cru ‘La Boudriotte’ but is only a ‘villages’ wine. On tasting, as on location, it is very much of a ‘superior’ villages. The wine shows a Puligny-like acid on the finish that cuts through the intense fruit on the palate. ‘La Boudriotte’ is as rich and silky as Les ‘Chaumes’ is tight and racy. From 28-year-old vines planted on clay soil, it is rounder on the palate with a supple texture and a lovely perfume of white flowers that lingers long on the finish. ‘Les Caillerets’ is another step up, however. It is more closed on the nose with a hint of flint giving way to a wine that show superb class and balance, and promises great things for the future – if you can keep your hands off it. We also have a small quantity of Caroline’s ‘Bâtard-Montrachet’, which has a lovely grainy, nutty fruit character that seems to last forever.

Historically, Chassagne was well known for its reds, due in part to the higher presence of red clay topsoil in the vineyards. Caroline’s red, named ‘L’Estimée’, has a pretty nose with good structure on the palate, nice intensity and good length. 

Moving up the hill to the Hautes Côtes, the ‘Clos Bortier’ bears the stamp of the Gagnard style. It is pure and expressive, but lacks any of the flashiness that characterises too many white Burgundies. It has lovely richness on the palate with nice acid and good length on the finish. The fruit for the 2016 Crémant de Bourgogne ‘Grand Lys’, made solely from Pinot Noir, also comes from this site. Aged for three years on its lees with a low dosage, it is, as you might expect from this domaine, richer and more complex than many wines from this appellation. And it is, like all their other wines, certified organic.

 

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