When the Burgundy offers appear in January, it’s fun to play “Fourrier-bingo”. Jean-Marie Fourrier’s words are so keenly devoured by all his visitors, press and clients alike, and he always offers such an intelligent, considered and convincing analysis of the vintage, that his words appear in quotations everywhere. It’s already not far short of twenty years since he took over the domaine from his father, and in that time – since our first vintage in 1999 – we have observed the domaine rise into the stratosphere. His unambiguous message, which his wines convey so convincingly, is that purity, elegance, freshness and terroir definition must always dominate over winemaking, oak, or any other ‘tricks’ available. Old vines, loving attention, careful, gentle, thoughtful winemaking – it’s a simple recipe. In Jean-Marie’s delicate hands “allowing nature to believe she’s in control” produces magnificent results. We have only very small quantities of all of these wines, and over the last few years almost everything has disappeared during the January En Primeur offer.
This is one of the jewel estates of Burgundy and we are very proud to be working with this domaine for the 20th vintage.
We tasted a beautiful range of wines again this year. In cool vintages, I often feel that the Fourrier hallmark is stamped most strongly on the wines produced, and yet, when the sun shines, as in 2018, all those cool, fresh characteristics remain present, just as in 2013 or 2014, for example. This is something Jean-Marie works extremely hard to maintain. It is something that worries him for the future, as we see more and more sun, and ripeness, and earlier and earlier harvests. Last year we observed some amphoras in the cellar (a work in progress, still) to see if this is one way of preserving freshness in the wines. But the main focus here is vineyard work and nurturing the old vines, of which they are so proud here, to bring them ripe but fresh, balanced fruit. It was most interesting to discover that the 2019 vintage has made use, for the first time in recent years, of some whole bunches in the vinification.
In 2018 picking took place rapidly for the reds on 7th September with a big picking team. Weather was hot during harvest, so grapes were picked only until mid day to avoid arriving too hot to the cellar. Alcohol levels were modest, for the vintage, topping out at 13.5%. Extraction, always minimal here, was further reduced from last year. Remontage rarely features, so that CO2 levels can be preserved, and just one to two punch downs per day. Everything else is the same as usual, with little new oak, no racking after the fermentation, and bottling in March.