Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard – profile

As you might know I’m a big admirer of wines with a strong expression of the terroir. It was therefore a great pleasure to visit Jean-Noël Gagnard in Chassagne on my May 2012 trip to Burgundy.

Jean-Noël Gagnard is one of the most exiting domaines in Chassagne Montrachet, as they are producing the wines according organic principles, and furthermore they make a big range of whites from the different terroirs of Chassagne Montrachet.

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Caroline Lestime is the owner of the Domaine, and she’s a modern and visionary winemaker, with a strong focus on terroir driven wines.

The Domaine produces 10 different white 1. cru Chassagnes, three village Chassagnes, thus presenting a lot of the different expressions of the Chassagne terroir. Furthermore the Domaine makes a very fine Bâtard Montrachet, a white Haut Cote de Beaune and 5 different red wines from Chassagne, Santenay and Haut Cote de Beaune.

Organic vineyard management

Caroline Lestime has since 2000 gradually transformed the vineyard management, and from 2010 it’s completely organic. In 2000 they stopped the use of herbicides in the vineyards and started ploughing the soil. The domaine is now in the process of getting certified as a organic, this proces takes three years – and Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard is now in the second year. More info on the certifkation could be found on Ecocert’s homepage.

I’m not religious about organic and biodynamic farming, but plenty of examples show the positive effects of organic vineyard management. The full effect of organic production is normally seen after 5 -10 years, but the wines gradually improve during this period. The main effects are more focused wines, with a more clear and precise definition of the terroir. Secondly the wines seems fresher, as the acidity often is higher – or at least is perceived higher.

The two effects combined gives fresher more crisp wines, and first and foremost a stronger and more precise expression of the terroir.

Jean-Noël Gagnard is trough the conversion to organic winemaking, and this shows in the wines. The expression of terroir is very good, and the difference in terroir is big within the impressive range of Chassagne whites. Tasting the wines is therefore an exciting aromatic journey around the appellation.

The white wines from Jean-Noël Gagnard

As mentioned the Domaine is making 14 different white wines, mostly from the village of Chassagne Montrachet.

Grand Cru – Bâtard Montrachet is the top of the range for this the Domaine. They have a 0,3607ha plot located in the middle part of Batard-Montrachet.

Premier Cru – at the top of the range we have Les Caillerets, followed by Blanchots-Dessus, Morgeot (lieu-dit – Les Petit Clos), La Boudriotte (Morgeot lieu-dit), Clos de la Maltroye, Maltroie, Les Champ Gain, Les Chaumèes, Les Chenevottes.

Village Chassagne – Les Masures, Les Chaumes, Pot Bois.

AOC Bourgogne Blanc – Haut-Cotes de Beaune Sous Eguisons.

Under the management of Caroline Lestime the number of cuvees have been increased significantly – before Les Chenevottes, Champs Gain, Blanchots-Dessus and Maltroie were assembled to make a cuvee of Chassagne-Montrachet 1. cru

Overall impressions of the wines

The wines from Jean-Noël Gagnard are generally of a very high quality, they are a classic expression of the Chassagne appellation. There is a Domaine style in the wines, with a good freshness and minerality, and a quite strong aromatic profile. The wines are pure and well made, with a good balance.

While the Domaine style is present in all the wines, the terroir of each wine is dominant, thus also giving quite different wines within the impressive range of wines. In other words, you are first and foremost drinking a Caillerets, and secondly a Jean-Noël Gagnard wine. Other winemakers have a more heavy Domaine impression – but I rather like this approach – let the terroir speak!

The vintages – 2010 and 2011

We had the pleasure of tasting a selection of both 2010 and 2011. The 2011 wines were still in cask, and had just been racked (Caillerets and Bâtard was in the racking process).

The overall impression of the 2010 vintage is wines with a quite strong aromatic profile, good nerve and a good freshness from the vibrant 2010 acidity. They are quite rich Chassagnes with a very fine expression of the appellation and the single terroir – wines I like to enjoy.

As mentioned the 2011 wines were in the racking process, thus making it hard to draw firm conclusions. The overall impression is however very good, as the wines display a fine acidity balanced by a lovely fruit. The wines have a good nerve and energy and are aromatically very pure. Summing up – I have quite high expectations for the 2011 Jean-Noël Gagnard wines.

Tasting Notes

The tasting notes from our visit at Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard will appear below as soon as they are published.

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