5,500 kilometres separate these two cities with strong cultural ties cemented by the French language. The French are always welcomed with open arms by their cousins in Quebec. In early August, I once again enjoyed, with 17 other wine producers from Bordeaux and Burgundy, a friendly time combing wine and golf organised by the Société des Alcools du Québec.
As a major distributor of wine and spirits, the S.A.Q is well-aware that wine is an excellent vector for cultural exchanges, and makes use of this to highlight its important role. Under the name of SAQ SIGNATURE, the Quebec monopoly shares their passion for wine by organising prestigious occasions at which members and guests can explore, discover, and taste rare and exclusive products.
Golf-playing members were thus invited on the 9th of August to take part in the 2nd SAQ Signature et Grands Vins competition at the Mirage golf course belonging to René Angélil and Cécile Dion. The French contingent, consisting mostly of beginners, was entitled to a short introductory before being divided into teams and pointed in the direction of the 18-hole Carolina course. Six tasting stations with 3 wines by the glass enabled players to taste everyone’s wines.
A young, vibrant, expressive and seductive wine seemed ideal for a summer outdoor activity. Served at hole no. 7, the 2008 vintage suited to a tee… Its tangy, fresh fruit and citrus overtones titillated our tastebuds in a celebration of the superb terroir of our Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc Premier Cru , Les Champs Gain.
A gala dinner was served at the Club House after the competition, enabling participants to enjoy a good meal accompanied by some of the 18 fine wines contributed by producers. This time, I counted on the complexity of the superb terroir at Les Caillerets combined with the richness of the 2006 vintage to do justice to the Domaine’s reputation.
This competition also included a donation to the Doctor Julien Foundation, which champions children’s rights in underprivileged households using social pediatrics.
The “climates” of Burgundy filed in 2002 to be recognized as a World Heritage Region. The regions of Côte de Nuits and Beaune are among the most prestigious in the world and deserve by their quality and diversity to be part of the World Heritage Program. “Climate” is the local word for “terroir”: I explained all about it on my site. The maps will give you an idea of the complexity and richness of Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.
If you are familiar with my site, you - hopefully - enjoyed the beautiful photos of Michel Joly. Michel’s pictures were selected to be shown on the exhibitions taking place all around the year in Dijon, Beaune, Clos de Vougeot and Nuits-Saint-Georges.
May 28- August 28, 2010: Dijon, Place de la Libération
Sept. 1st-Nov. 14 : 2010 : Beaune, Hôtel-Dieu, Passage Sainte-Hélène, Porte Marie de Bourgogne
Nov. 18, 2010-Juin 2011 : Château du Clos de Vougeot
June-Sept. 2011: Nuits-Saint-Georges
Daniel McKeever shares his tasting of my L’Estimée 2007. I’m really happy he enjoyed it! There is a story behind the name of this special cuvee. The Paquelin family has been present in Chassagne-Montrachet since the 15th century, and its descendents are still to be found in the village. However, due to a lack of male descendents, the surnames of the in-laws, such as Coffinet (1866) and Gagnard (1925), have appeared in place of the original families’ surnames. The branch founded by Jean-Noël Gagnard continues to the present day under the name of Lestimé (1994). The name of this wine, L’Estimée, is an allusion to the newest branch of the family − and it also means “the respected lady” in French.
I took my first steps in winemaking in 1989, the year I arrived at the Domaine.
I spent the first ten years (1989-1999) in a quest to identify the essence – the deep-down uniqueness – of each of our terroirs. This laid the foundations of my philosophy concerning vineyard management and environmental practices at the Domaine.
In 2000, I put a stop to the use of herbicides in our vines and started ploughing the soil.
The return to these vineyard management practices, in general up until the early 1970s, necessitated major investments and additional manpower, as well as a complete reorganisation of our working methods.
Tilling the soil (ploughing, chiselling, mowing, etc.) is now one of the main aspects of our work in the vineyards.
Finally, in 2010, it was time to perfect this approach and focus completely on the vines.
We already made sweeping changes ten years ago, introducing phenotypic selection and a policy of preserving the genetic biodiversity of our vines.
In 2010, our use of mineral rather than chemical sprays to protect our vines from disease and pests completed our conversion to organic vineyard management.
From now on, the preservation of the Domaine’s vineyard assets is the cornerstone of my winemaking business.
The “Grands Jours de Bourgogne” event just closed its doors. Dedicated only to wine professionals, the event attracted a lot of journalists, enologists, sommeliers and buyers. It was the first time I was part of this prestigious event. I presented my 2008 Premiers Crus blancs Blanchots-Dessus and Caillerets as well as the Village Appellation Les Chaumes in white and the Cuvée L’Estimée in red.
In the 2010 March issue of Decanter Magazine, Steven Spurrier and Stephen Brook analyzed the 2008 vintage for the Burgundy wines.
The 2008 Les Caillerets from Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard was distinguished during the traditional wine tasting organized in London for the British wine merchants. We are proud to be part of a very small selection of Burgundy estates and to get the astonishing grade of 18/20: “Spicy, oaky, toasty and pear. Very full, concentrated and powerful; majestic not heavy, excellent poise and balance, and very persistent.”
Allen Meadows, the international specialist of Burgundy wines and famous for his knowledge of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, tasted all our 2008 wines in a cold morning of February 2010. His notes will be available on his web site burghound.com (on subscription only).
Saturday 30th January 2010 and Sunday 31st January 2010
In 1970, I was too young to participate in, or even remember the first Saint Vincent festival ever held in Chassagne-Montrachet. That is why organizing the most recent celebration was for me, and others from my generation, a new and meaningful experience.
For a full year, the people in our village, winegrowers as well as others, invested their considerable skills and an enormous amount of time and energy in preparing this major event.
On D-Day, despite the capricious weather the day before which had us a bit worried, everything was ready for a procession by some 80 Burgundian mutuals, preceded by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, to a mass celebrated by the Right Reverend Roland Minnerath, Bishop of Dijon, followed by induction ceremonies.
The 40,000 visitors who shared this weekend with us were able to enjoy a special cuvée of 2008 Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc made especially for them.
What an emotional occasion this was, and how proud we felt to belong to the large family of Burgundian winegrowers - men and women who have made the most of their unique terroir for generations upon generations to produce great wines!
And, as is only normal at such special times spent with family, friends and guests passing through, we opened a few old bottles between two bans bourguignons:
- Magnums of 1997 Chassagne-Montrachet Les Masures Blanc
- Bottles of 1990 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Bill Nanson, the author of the famous blog Burgundy-Report.com.
Bill tasted my wines in the 2008 vintage. He was sensitive to my “lutte raisonnée” approach as well as to the work of Claude Bourguignon on the soil. According to his article, our conversation was mostly about the 2007s and the 2008s: “The 2008s did need quite a long elevage – four cuvées finished malos in January, the majority in April/May and another in June. Caroline says that she will wait until the wines are completely ‘ready’ before she begins bottling. The 2007s for instance were bottled in January 2009, Caroline thinks that she will likely wait until March 2010 for her 2008s.”
This year, for two days, Burgundy hosted the General Assembly of the Union nationale des sommeliers de France (Union of French Sommeliers).
Chassagne-Montrachet hosted the meeting
Under the leadership of the Burgundy Association of Sommeliers, 100 wine professionals gathered during a Sunday afternoon in Chassagne-Montrachet and were received by the 27 wine makers and owners who answered the call of their President, Jean-Claude Wallerand.
Among this important delegation, Philippe Faure-Brac, Best World Sommelier in 1992 (Rio), was spotted tasting our wines.
It was the opportunity for all those professionnals to (re)taste the white and red wines of our appellation of Chassagne-Montrachet mostly in the 2008 and 2007 vintages and for a few in the 2006 vintage.
The wines of Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard
I selected three wines of my domain in the 2006 vintage. For our “Village” Appellation, I offered our Masures in white and our Cuvée L’Estimée in red. For my “Premier Cru”, I poured my favorite of the moment, Les Champs Gain that I described in my “Yesterday, I tasted” section.
In early July, the vines grew untroubled in the fine summer weather, briefly abandoned by winegrowers and their partners on holiday.
Lovingly tended and laid out in perfectly straight rows, the vines are currently soaking up the sun and warmth. Sometimes, after a shower, their increased vigour cases a spurt of growth, calling for further trimming.
The leaf canopy is excellent and the grapes are doing very well. A few berries are just starting to change colour as you can see from this photo I took at our plot in Chassagne, in the Premier Cru Clos Saint Jean.
This degree of ripeness usually takes place about the 5th of August!
The lilies are in bloom and, according to an old saying, Burgundian winegrowers know they can count on starting to pick their grapes 100 days thereafter.
It thus looks like we can begin harvesting in early September.
At the present time, fruit set has just started with Chardonnay and the flowering is just finishing with Pinot Noir. This indicates a 13-day head start compared to 2008.
At this stage, 2009 thus looks to be the second earliest vintage in the past fifteen years, just behind 2003.
In order to celebrate the first anniversary of their wine shop and restaurant, Gorane Djuric and Antoine Andrieu invited their customers and winegrowers to a mini fair.
Their wines are divided by colour and flavour, and can be tasted for 5 euros.
Our 2004 Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge, Cuvée L’Estimée, is included among wines being offered by the glass.
Two evenings a month, this young, dynamic duo organises tutored tastings.
This Burgundy wine fair is organized by the Viticulture Committee of the Côte d’Or with the help of the S.A.Q. It is targeted to consumers and Burgundy wine lovers of Canada.
Fifty producers and negotiants will play “ambassadors” of Burgundy wines and will be part of two distinct events:
“Le Grand Salon des Vins de Bourgogne 2009″ (it’s its Second Edition; the first one took place in 2007)
March 14, 2009: 11:00am-4:00pm: Montreal Sheraton Hotel
Each producerpresented two of its wines for tasting. As for myself, I chose:
- Chassagne-Montrachet « Les Champs Gain » 1ER Cru Blanc 2006
- Chassagne-Montrachet « Clos Saint jean » 1ER Cru Rouge 2005
“Le Grand Dîner de Bourgogne” (VIP Burgundy Dinner)
The same day in the evening, each producer sat at a designated table and spoke about his/her estate and its wines. I served two wines at my table:
- Chassagne-Montrachet « Les champs Gain » 1ER Cru Blanc 2004
- Santenay « Clos de Tavannes » 1ER Cru Rouge 2004
Caroline Lestimé and her husband, Hubert, were pleased to welcome you and your friends for a tasting of some of the Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard wines during the 19th Salon des Vignerons Polytechniciens on March 15th, 2009. Doors open from 11am to 7pm at the Hôtel de Poulpry, 12 rue de Poitiers, 75007 Paris.
Caroline went to Justerini & Brooks, 61, St. James’s Street, London SW1A 1LZ. Phone: 0207 484 6400, fax: 0207 484 6499. She presented her 2007 vintage to the trade and consumers.
On January 7th, 2009, I presented my 2007 vintage at Berry Bros. & Rudd, 3, St. James’s Street, London SW1A 1EG. Phone: 0870 900 4300, fax: 0870 900 4301.
Cold and rain affected flowering in the spring, causing coulure (shot berries) and millerandage (poor fruit set). Temperatures thereafter remained cooler than average, particularly in August and September.
Vine growth was slow, and frequently interrupted by storms. This called for careful attention in the vineyard. The vines were sprayed sparingly and at just the right time in order to fight against oidium and mildew.
A long-awaited north wind began to blow on the 14th of September. This blew away the clouds, leaving a clear blue sky. The dry, cool, sunny weather enabled the grapes to continue ripening under good conditions.
Green harvesting after véraison (colour change) was essential in 2008 to eliminate the least ripe bunches of grapes.
Harvesting began in earnest on the 25th of September, and the grapes looked beautiful. Picking came to an end on the 6th of October in our plot of white Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune.
After months of stress, analysis proved the grapes to have very good sugar levels, coupled with good acidity.
Our 2008 vintage wines are very promising. The white wines are fresh and aromatic, while the red wines have great colour and concentration.
So, things are looking very good for our white wines, and the low yields of red wine grapes was also encouraging.
Caroline Lestimé était à Londres en janvier 2008 pour y présenter son millésime 2006.
Lundi 7 janvier, La dégustation était organisée par Berry Bros. & Rudd, 3, St. James’s Street
A l’occasion du 11ème Salon des Vignerons Polytechniciens de Lyon, le domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard vous présentera quelques-uns de ses vins le Samedi 17 novembre 2007 au Cercle Mixte des Officiers, 22 avenue Leclerc, 69007 Lyon de 11h. à 19h.