The Domaine Fourrier (previously known as Pernot-Fourrier) has a long history in Gevrey Chambertin extending over four generations. The estate was founded by Fernand Pernot during the 1930s and 1940s. Unmarried and childless, he enlisted the aid of his nephew, Jean-Claude Fourrier, who then took the reins of the domaine in 1969. One of the first domains to actually export its wine to the USA, it is also one of the most well-endowed estates in the village with holdings throughout the most heralded appellations. Having weathered a period of eclipse through the latter part of the 1980s, the domain was re-energized in 1994 upon the arrival of Jean-Marie Fourrier, son of Jean-Claude. Jean-Marie burst on the Burgundian scene by wisely combining the traditions of his father and uncle (using, for example, vines of a minimum 30 years of age for the estate bottlings), his experience gained while working with Henri Jayer and the Domaine Drouhin (in Oregon), and his own clear sense of style. Ever since his ascension, the wines of Domaine Fourrier have garnered critical acclaim. He now works the domaine with the assistance of his sister, Isabelle, and his wife, Vicki.
We arrived at the doorstep of Domaine Fourrier virtually simultaneously with Jean-Marie’s return to the domaine. We were referred to him by our mutual friend and acquaintance, Romain Lignier of Domaine Hubert Lignier in Morey Saint Denis. The wines of Domaine Fourrier have been part of our catalogue commencing with the 1994 vintage and we represent this estate on an exclusive basis for the United States (as is the case with virtually all producers in our portfolio).
The Domaine Fourrier owns 9 hectares of vineyards spread amongst the communes of Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St.-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny and Vougeot. The holdings are scattered up and down the slopes and range from village to Grand Cru level. Included among the holdings are important parts of "Clos St. Jacques" and "Combes Aux Moines" as well as a small but valuable slice of Griottes Chambertin. The impeccably tended vineyards are composed of vines of an average age between 50 and 70 years old. "Until a vineyard develops a root system, it doesn't develop flavor", says Jean-Marie. Thus, wines made from any vines less than 30 years old are sold to négociants rather than being bottled at the domaine. Sélection massale (use of cuttings from their own vines) is the only method used to replace missing or failing vines. Commercial clones specifically selected for disease resistance or high yield have no place here. Respect for terroir is a paramount principle. Chemical fertilizers are not used and treatments to combat fungus and insects are applied only when absolutely necessary. Jean Marie does not blindly follow the theory that lower yields automatically equate with higher quality. To control production, he severely prunes his vines in the winter, but does not, as a rule, practice green harvesting, preferring to rely on a process of de-budding. Achieving natural balance between yield and vine growth as a function of each season's growing conditions is Fourrier's key objective. The pickers are instructed to eliminate any unsound grapes in the vineyard before the bunches go into the baskets. In this way, the grapes going into the tanks are completely uncontaminated, yielding clean lees which allows for an extensive aging on the lees without racking.
Working with Mother Nature, intervening as little as possible in order to allow the vines, the terroir and the vintage to express themselves, is the basis of Jean Marie's winemaking philosophy. To capture the individual, unique expression of terroir in his wines, he vinifies each vineyard separately, not only the premier and grand crus. A cold soak of 3 to 4 days prior to fermentation allows gentle extraction of color and aromatic phenols. Fourrier avoids the use of sulfur dioxide in his wines, preferring to use temperature, CO2 and lees contact to preserve them. No more than 20% new oak is used in order to preserve the purity of the fruit and the personality of each wine. "Oak is for slow breathing of the wine, not for taste," Jean-Marie emphasizes. Additionally, older barrels exchange gases much more slowly, thereby naturally protecting the wine against oxidation. The malolactic fermentation is allowed to proceed at its own rate. Jean-Marie believes that the longer the malolactic takes to finish, the greater the aging potential of the wine. He likes to leave the wines on the fine lees until bottling which usually occurs 18 to 20 months after harvest. He bottles, in some cases straight from the cask, without fining or filtering the wines, preferring to allow the dissolved CO2 to remain in the wine as protection rather than risk the addition of SO2 in deference to "modern market requirements". What ends up in the glass is a pure expression of terroir with as little interference as possible by the winemaker. Domaine Fourrier's wines possess superb balance, enchanting elegance, finesse and complexity.
This small cuvée of white wine is an enchanting introduction to the wines of the estate. From a parcel in the northern reaches of the Cote de Nuits, the wine is simple but broad and generous, typical of the whites of this part of Burgundy with soils more attuned to pinot noir. Three barrels (900 bottles) are our usual allocation for the US market.
The Fourrier family has a series of small holdings within Chambolle Musigny. The village parcel covers .39 hectare and the vines were planted in 1936. Fourrier’s style marries particularly well to the finesse that is so critical to the proper expression of the Chambolle terroir.
Morey Saint Denis “Clos Solon”
In the village just to the south of Gevrey Chambertin, the home base of Fourrier, the family’s holdings extend to vineyards in both the village and 1er Cru appellations. On the village level, Fourrier owns more than a half-hectare of vines within “Clos Solon”. The vines were planted in 1961 and sit just beneath the lovely 1er Cru of “La Riotte”.
Gevrey Chambertin “Aux Echezeaux”
Fourrier owns a substantial parcel of .47 hectare in this vineyard which is on the southern side of Gevrey immediately on the border with Morey Saint Denis. Because of its location, it is a more tender and elegant wine, less tannic and more silky than the other Gevrey village wine produced at the domaine.
Gevrey Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”
Although all of the bottlings of red wine at the Fourrier estate are from old vines (and are so labeled), we refer to this cuvée simply as the Gevrey Vieilles Vignes. The source of grapes is the Champerrier vineyard. Here, Fourrier owns about three hectares of vines, most of which were planted between 1928 and 1955. In contrast to the “Aux Echezeaux”, this parcel is on the northernmost side of Gevrey bordering the village of Brochon, a location that tends to produce wines of more tannic backbone and overall structure.
Vougeot 1er Cru “Les Petits Vougeots”
This is the southernmost holding in the Fourrier domaine, a superbly placed vineyard in the village of Vougeot. Fourrier owns .34 hectare and the vines were planted both in 1930 and 1955. The vineyard sits to the immediate north of the prime section of Clos Vougeot and turns into the “Petits Musigny” vineyard of Chambolle.
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru “Les Gruenchers”
In Chambolle, Fourrier exploits two separate 1er Crus. The more important (in terms of quantity) is the Les Gruenchers where the family owns .29 hectare. The vines were planted in 1928. “Gruenchers” is in the mid-section of the appellation, beneath “Les Fuées” and not far from “Les Charmes”.
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru “Les Sentiers”
The Fourriers own a very small piece of this well-placed 1er Cru which sits beneath the great Bonnes Mares and on the border with Morey Saint Denis. Because of the excellent quality of this wine and its limited availability, we have encouraged Fourrier to bottle this only in magnums and, certainly, we will be taking our share in this format whenever the wine is produced.
Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru “Clos Sorbes”
Here, again, the Fourriers own a tiny parcel where production is rather limited. As in all cases with this domaine, the bottling comes from grapes harvested from vines in excess of thirty years of age. This parcel sits immediately south of the miniscule 1er Cru known as “Clos Baulet”, both sites are in the center of the Morey vineyards.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cherbaudes”
The Fourrier parcel in « Cherbaudes » was planted in 1940. The family has a significant holding here that totals about two-thirds of a hectare. The parcel sits just beneath the Grand Cru Mazis Chambertin in the central part of the appellation and tends to be the most elegant of the numerous 1er Crus produced at this estate.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Goulots”
The "Goulots" vineyard sits in the northernmost corner of Gevrey high on the hill overlooking the village. The one-third hectare parcel owned by Fourrier was planted in 1966. This wine sits immediately next to both “Les Champeaux” and “Combe Aux Moines” and tends to be very four-square in its structure, with a dense core of blackberry fruit.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Combe Aux Moines”
This site is recognized as producing some of the best wines of this appellation. Here, Fourrier owns a sizable tranche of this 1er Cru: .87 hectares where his vines were planted in 1928. Fourrier’s “Combe Aux Moines” is a wine of formidable concentration with a tendency to show a wild, “animal” side to its character.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Champeaux”
A vineyard that recently has been treated with regal respect after not being well-known. In fact, for many years, the Fourriers blended the grapes from the Champeaux and Goulots vineyards together, principally because their holdings in “Champeaux” are only .21 hectare. The vines here were planted in 1919 and produce a wine of exceptional concentration and depth with a superior level of complexity and elegance.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Clos Saint Jacques”
Frequently referred to as the best of the 1er Crus in Gevrey, the « Clos Saint Jacques » vineyard produces some of Fourrier’s most exceptional wines year-in and year-out. The Fourrier holdings here extend for .89 hectare and the vines were planted in 1910!
Griotte Chambertin Grand Cru
The Griotte Chambertin is the sole Grand Cru holding in the Fourrier domaine. Within “Griotte”, which is rather small in size, Fourrier owns about one-quarter hectare. The vines were planted in 1928. Production is always rather limited. The “Griotte” is a sublimely elegant wine without the rough, “sauvage” edges of much of Gevrey’s terroir.