2012 Criots Batard Montrachet Fontaine-Gagnard

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£152.00 DP

Average critic rating : 93.5 points



Notes of pain grillé combine with mildly exotic aromas that are not dissimilar from those of the Caillerets though here there is a distinct petrol element as well. Despite the elevated ripeness displayed by the nose the palate impression of the attractively textured and concentrated flavors is quite cool and reserved, all wrapped in a complex, long and balanced finish that also exhibits a touch of sweetness. Tasted: Jun 15, 2014. Drink: 2018+



The 2012 Criots-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru comes from the family’s one-third hectare holding planted between the 1930s and 1990s. It was picked the same day as the premier crus and Celine told me that it always has a slightly higher degree of alcohol. It has an entrancing bouquet with perfumed apricot, peach and dried citrus peel notes infused with minerals – feminine and seductive. The palate is medium-bodied with a rounded, powerful, spicy opening. It is very well balanced, very concentrated on the finish. This is compelling like so many from this under-rated grand cru vineyard, though there are just four barrels instead of the usual eight in this year. ||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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