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Average critic rating : 91.0 points
The 2012 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vergers comes from 0.72-hectares of vine planted in 1972 and this year it had the highest natural acidity level of the crus and was the last to be picked. The nose is very refined with delicate white peach and almond scents wafting gently from the glass. The palate is rounded and generous on the entry. Here, there is good weight in the mouth with a satisfying peach and citrus peel finish. This is delicious. ||I’ve been smitten by the wines of this Chassagne producer ever since winemaker Celine Gagnard poured me a hauntingly beautiful Criots-Batard-Montrachet in London several years ago. Celine is one of those immediately likeable winemakers: an outgoing personality with an uncommon side order of self-deprecating humor, frankness and self-confessed chattiness. There is directness in her approach that is refreshing. It probably stems from her father Richard, an air force mechanic who upon meeting his wife Laurence Gagnard, dropped everything to study winemaking. Together they established their own domaine initially through rented parcels and debuted with the 1985 vintage. They now have an impressive portfolio as Laurence’s father Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange has handed down parcels so that they presently own an enviable trove of Chassagne premier crus. Celine did not dither in expounding her views upon organic winemaking, de rigueur amongst vignerons. She is adamant that the practice is leaving too many copper deposits in the vineyard. Good point – one rarely addressed. And whereas many winemakers are gently dialing down the level of new oak, here at Fontaine-Gagnard it is part of the intrinsic character of the wines, not that they showed excessive use. To this end, at Fontaine-Gagnard they venture into the forest to select their own wood that is dried in Richard’s garden for two years, governing the drying process so that they get exactly what they want. “We used more new oak this vintage on both whites and reds. The flowering was worse in Chassagne than in Volnay. On 17 May we suffered frost damage in higher terroirs. We believe we need to have the best healthy grapes at harvest time and for that we need products when the pressure is hard. After all, we live in a climate with a lot of rain. We have seen a high concentration of copper in organically farmed vineyards.” Here, the pickers picked up their secateurs on 19 September and put them down again on 24 September. Celine explained that there was little sorting to do because it had been done all in the vineyard, either naturally or through vineyard husbandry. As I mentioned, I am not one to pull my punches from overuse of new oak, but here at Fontaine-Gagnard, they have always had the knack of assimilating it into the wine so that it is barely noticeable. Broaching the whites first, we tasted through the complete range except for their single barrel Montrachet that had already been bottled, through Celine generously opened a 2011 that I left to one side because it was so closed. As I mentioned, there is a clutch of stupendous premier crus here, especially from the calcareous soils on the higher reaches of the slope such as “La Romanee” and “Cailleret”. The only downside is that they border the forest and wild boars have taken to nibbling some of the La Romanee berries. They don’t even leave a tasting note. Crowned by two superb grand crus, “Queen Criots” and “King Batard,” the whites overshadow their reds that tend to be more rustic and easy drinking, not substandard wines by any means, but rarely the main event. This brings me back to that Montrachet 2011 that was waiting patiently for its turn. A couple of hours later I return to my hotel and switch on my laptop. I discover the Word document open and ready for a note never written, the poured Montrachet snubbed by us both. Doh! Both Celine and I had been chewing the fat so much that I forgot it. I just hope she enjoyed the rest of the bottle that evening?assuming that she noticed herself. eRobertParker.com.December, 2013
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