It is with much anticipation that we await the release of the 2015 vintage from Domaine Fourrier toward the middle of August. Our tastings of the 2015s with Jean-Marie Fourrier last September (out of barrel) and this past March (just after bottling) revealed another impressive vintage from one of our most exciting and reliable growers. The forthcoming shipment marks our 22nd vintage importing these now-fabled wines from the Cote de Nuits. Back in 1995, Jean-Marie had just taken the reins from his father, and the growth since then has been extraordinary. Over the last two decades, Jean-Marie and his sister Isabel have brought an elevated level of dedication and thoughtfulness to their work in the vineyards and the cellar that consistently yield enormously positive results. The success of Domaine Fourrier is well deserved. While 2015 promises to be a benchmark vintage, the downside is that yields were once again modest. Though this is an unfortunate continuance of an unsettling story, if given the choice between quality and quantity, quality will always carry the day.
The summer of 2015 was warm and dry, leading to harvests beginning around the 9th of September. Jean-Marie describes it as a fruity vintage with elegant texture and believes the vintage was helped by their decision not to do very much leaf-pulling in order to protect the grapes from the heat of the season. Even so, the warmth and hydric stress of the vintage produced small berries, creating lower yields than in 2014. Because of the higher skin-to-juice ratio created by the smaller berries, Jean-Marie decided to do less pigeage to avoid extracting too much tannin. He feels the wines show a nice freshness and silky texture, since they are not overly tannic. As usual, the wines were aged with only 20% new oak, spending most of their elevage on the fine lees. The wines were bottled in February of 2017.
The only white wine made at Domaine Fourrier, the Bourgogne Blanc is sourced from a very small parcel located in Gilly Les Cîteaux. We get only a handful of cases of this affable white each year. Chardonnay is rarely seen occupying the slopes of the Cote de Nuits, but it can be an interesting illustration of the range of white Burgundy. Grown here, it tends be more broad-shouldered, with an earthier tone to the fruit. The 2015 Bourgogne Blanc is a worthy example: open and delicious – the fruit is sweet and silky, dominated by classic Chardonnay flavors of ripe apple combined with an alien note of red fruits. Not too broad, the wine is firmly grounded with a zippy acidity.
Half of this small cuvée is made with estate fruit (.38-hectare parcel of 80-year-old vines) and half is made from purchased grapes (40-year-old parcel in Fixin). The red and black cherry fruit is fresh and juicy, with more of a sweet than tart edge. Open and ready, it is a great preview of the Fourrier style and the qualities of the 2015 vintage.
Made from a .39-hectare parcel planted in 1936, this cuvée is classic Chambolle. The 2015 has pristinely pure, delicate red fruit of strawberry and raspberry, lightly undercut with a minty floral spice. This wine is extremely light on its feet, more a marvel of minerality than fruit. Still, the fruit is sweet and present, with some subtle supporting tannins.
Morey St. Denis “Clos Solon”
This parcel, which is over a half-hectare, is located within both the village and Premier Cru section of “Clos Solon”. The vines were planted in 1961, in a parcel located right below the Premier Cru “La Riotte”. The lavender-spiced blackberry fruit has a much richer and darker tone than the Chambolle Muisgny. The tannins are also more evident, adding a slightly bitter spice to the finish. This wine is quite open and complete and can be enjoyed at this early stage.
Gevrey Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”
The majority of this cuvée comes from Fourrier’s three-hectare holding in “Champerrier”, located in the northern part of Gevrey. The vines for this cuvée were planted between 1928 and 1955. The 2015 is quite complex for a village Gevrey, showing ripe black cherry fruit and a beautiful sweet texture, alongside a noticeable structure, with a firm mineral core that adds a pleasing tonic acidity. Compared to the Chambolle and Morey at the village level, this is a step up in concentration and length.
Gevrey Chambertin “Aux Echezeaux”
“Aux Echezeux” is situated on the southern fringe of Gevrey, fortuitously nestled besides the Grand Cru “Mazoyéres”. Fourrier owns a half-hectare parcel that he habitually bottles separately to preserve the unique character of this excellent lieu-dit. Compared to the more powerful and earthier “Vieilles Vignes”, this wine shows elegance and restraint consistent with wines from the southern edge of the appellation. The fruit is delicate and pure, adding an elegance that tames the animal notes frequently associated with the wines of Gevrey Chambertin.
Vougeot Premier Cru “Les Petits Vougeot”
This rare Premier Cru is burrowed among Vougeot, Les Musigny, and Les Amoureuses. It is Fourrier’s southernmost holding and measures 3/4ths of a hectare. The 2015 is a suave wine with a gorgeous, silky texture. The fruit is pure with intense, sweet strawberry and cherry fruit, spiced with hints of lavender and smoke. There are some firm tannins and acidity, making this wine a bit closed at the moment. To give it at least a few years in bottle will be worth the wait.
Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru “Les Gruenchers”
This .29-hectare parcel planted in 1928 is one of two Premier Crus that Domaine Fourrier owns within Chambolle-Musigny, located roughly in the center of the village, just beneath “Les Fuées”. The 2015 is graceful, with wholesome raspberry and cranberry fruit notes. The penetrating minerality creates a clarity that contrasts with the surprisingly firm tannins underneath. As it is a tad hard in the finish, a few years in bottle is required to let this wine do its thing.
Morey Saint Denis Premier Cru “Clos Sorbes”
Fourrier works a miniscule parcel in this Premier Cru, located in the center of Morey St. Denis. The wine is quite rich with a dynamic range of red and black fruit tones intermingling throughout. Not too tannic, this wine does have a warmer and more generous character when compared to his other Premier Crus. A good candidate for those who cannot wait to pull corks.
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Cherbaudes”
Fourrier’s two-thirds of a hectare of “Cherbaudes” was planted in 1940, and it is typically the most open of his Gevrey Premier Crus. The 2015 is no exception, with pure blackberry and sweet raspberry-jam-tinted fruit underscored by a subtle animal earthiness. Not especially tannic, this wine has a firm mineral core that adds a dreamy texture to the fruit.
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Les Goulots”
The half-hectare parcel of this rare Premier Cru (squeezed between “Combe aux Moines” and “Champeaux”) in the most northern reaches of Gevrey Chambertin, is much firmer and closed than the “Cherbaudes”. It has a wilder dark-berry fruit and hints of dried herbs and flowers. It will benefit from a year or two in bottle.
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Champeaux”
The “Champeaux” is perhaps the most forceful of Fourrier’s 2015 Premier Crus (the tiny .21-hectare parcel was planted in 1919). It has a ripe and dense fruit character that leans toward blackberry and licorice, is robust and round on the palate, with gripping tannins through the finish. Even so, this wine shows great restraint and elegance, as well as a beautiful purity and balance of acidity that are a hallmark of Fourrier’s wines.
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Combe Aux Moines”
One of our perpetual favorite bottlings from Fourrier comes from his sizable .87-hectare holding in “Combe Aux Moines”. Sharing the same northern sector of Gevrey as “Les Goulots” and “Champeaux”, “Combe Aux Moines” is typically more pure and restrained than its neighbors. The sappy, red-berry fruit has more in common with the “Cherbaudes”, yet this wine shows an extra degree of depth and complexity. Its admirable purity and profound minerality lend this wine considerable persistence on the palate.
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Clos Saint-Jacques”
The crown jewel of Fourrier’s Gevrey holdings, this .89-hectare parcel is well over 100 years old and does it all: it magically transmits the power and force of the Champeaux while retaining the elegance and purity of the “Combe Aux Moines”. Layers of fruit unfold from pure cherry to black cherry, while a firm mineral structure holds everything in place. The 2015 is quite concentrated and firm, showing a sweet core of fruit that should unfold with some time in the cellar.
Griotte Chambertin Grand Cru
Domaine Fourrier’s only Grand Cru holding is a .26-hectare parcel, planted in 1928. Big and juicy, the Griotte lives up to its name with decadent cherry fruit that explodes from the glass. The Griotte is surprisingly open for this early stage. It has plenty of mineral lift, with slightly herbaceous undertones and some firm tannins in the finish. While you can drink this charming wine today, it has the power and structure to live on for years.