While there is no one secret to Jean-Marie’s success, he has had a very clear philosophy from day one. Following the traditions of his father and uncle, he only makes wine from vines that are 30 years or older, believing that until the vine develops a root system it does not deliver flavour. As such, all the wine produced from young vines is sold on to négociants.
There is an emphasis on working extensively in the vineyards. Beyond only using old vines, he debuds the vines prior to flowering, but eschews a green harvest, believing it is key to manage yield early in the season and that the old vines are balanced enough to reach adequate ripeness and instil a complex flavour profile without green harvesting.
Domaine Fourrier’s Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes comes from 12 separate parcels dotted around the appellation, whereas his Morey-Saint-Denis comes from one site in Clos Solon, just north of the Route D974.
All four of the domaine’s Premiers Crus are located in Gevrey-Chambertin, with three of them (Les Goulots, Combe au Moine and Clos Saint-Jacques) located on the higher-altitude, cooler Combe Lavaux. Despite their close proximity, each of the wines offers a distinctly different flavour profile.
The Les Goulots Premier Cru is east-facing and in the shade by 4pm, due to the nearby forest which gives the wine a beguiling, cooler character compared to neighbouring Combe aux Moines. This south-facing flatter site is warmer– the walled clos better reflecting the heat too, adding more richness when compared to Les Goulots.
The Clos Saint-Jacques Premier Cru further south is the top wine of the estate, coming from some of the vineyard’s oldest vines, planted in 2010. It is frequently cited as a wine of Grand Cru status, producing a richer style with more mineral complexity.
Griottes-Chambertin is the domaine's only Grand Cru, situated directly below Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, with the vines in the Fourrier plot planted in 1928.
Fourrier tends to be neither the first or last to pick, placing particular emphasis on phenolic maturity, while also wishing to retain freshness. He aims to retain the purity of fruit, rather than affect it, during vinification, favouring mainly de-stemmed fruit (with a small percentage used depending on the vintage) and minimal extraction techniques. Importantly, he does not filter or rack his wines after fermentation.
He believes that filtering wine removes too much flavour. If you rack a barrel after nine months you take out between seven and nine litres of sediment from the wine; but if you rack after 18 months, you take out only four to five litres of sediment, meaning the wine must re-absorb the sediment if you give it long enough, something which Fourrier feels helps the wine retain maximum flavour.
He also never stirs the sediment, which could allow for the possible introduction of oxygen. Leaving wines on the lees, undisturbed, creates a reductive environment, protecting the wines (and, with Pinot Noir’s light lees, he believes there is little concern for wines being damaged by reductive taint).
Fourrier favours old oak, using a maximum 20% new wood on the Grands Crus (15% for the Premiers Crus, 10% for the village Gevrey-Chambertin and none for the Bourgogne Rouge). With climate change, however, he has started using alternative vessels to help preserve freshness, having found that new oak barrels result in higher volatile acidity and therefore higher sulphur additions required (something he prefers to keep minimal). As such, he now uses a combination of amphorae, stainless steel barrels and glass for around 20% of each cuvée.
While Jean-Marie Fourrier himself is in charge, François Orisé is his right-hand man and winemaker.