January 7, 2010

Such Chardonnays have challenged many preconceptions about popular taste. They revel in their touch of austerity, not having been made from grapes stripped of acidity by climate, late harvest, or deacidification.

They’re slender of body, without the Rubenesque size were supposed to covet. And they lack the toasty new wood that, we’re told, no wine drinker can resist. In fact, the magic of these wines is not easily found, but once discovered it will grip a wine lovers soul and never let it go.

The Wellspring

A quarter century ago, about the only place you could find Chardonnay of great minerality was in France. There were pockets of such wine in the Côte dOr, but opulence was still the cardinal virtue of a fine Côte dOr white. You were far better off looking in Chablis, where a few old-fashioned producers were content to let the grape and soil speak with minimal translation. Today, this philosophy is flourishing in Chablis, as more of its top producers strive for site expression unmasked by extract or the taste of wood. Such thinking is also spreading through the Côte dOr, especially in Meursault, where a handful of growers are making some of the worlds most thrillingly complex, and profoundly mineral, Chardonnay. These wines are made possible by a very low water table, which forces the vine roots deep underground, magnifying the intense stoniness of the village's soils. Not that long ago, growers in Meursault dared not emphasize their wines natural stoniness; they were more interested in making classic buttery” Meursault. It wasnt until the 1990s when-building on the earlier work of Coche-Dury and Comte Lafon-Jean-Marc Roulot perfected the idea of crafting intensely mineral Meursault. Ever since, Roulots wines have been benchmarks for those who love Chardonnay of blinding clarity, complex minerality, and laser-guided acidity.

Jean-Philippe Fichet

Until recently, no lover of Roulots mineral style of Meursault would question that he makes the best examples. But with the emergence of the equally gifted Jean-Philippe Fichet, Roulot is no longer necessarily the clear leader. Little-known outside Burgundy until recently, Fichets pedigree is well-established, with a track record of stunning Meursaults since the 2000 vintage. And he has achieved this primarily with village level lieu-dit (non-premier cru) vineyards. In fact, if I had to choose just one growers lieu-dit Meursaults to drink from the past decade, I would have a very hard time choosing between those of Roulot and Fichet. And if cost were a consideration, Fichet wins hands-down, since his wines can be had for about two-thirds the price of Roulots comparable cuvées (not to mention those of Lafon and Coche!).

The Glorious 2007s

As good as Fichets wines have been since 2000, the greatest measure of his talents can be found in his newly released 2007s. Its a vintage made for his style of winemaking, and he took full advantage, producing wines that are breathtaking for their purity and the way they reveal the soil. Next week you can find out for yourself, as Fichets 2007s are featured in The Rare Wine Co. newsletter. Showcased are his overachieving Bourgogne Blanc Vieilles Vignes, made from a high proportion of vines a stones throw from the premier cru Meursault-Charmes; his thrillingly diverse Meursault Tesson, Chevalières, Gruyaches and Meix Sous le Chateau lieux dits; and his lone Meursault premier cru, Genevrières, of which just two barrels were made. 

Related Products

Description Notes Avail/
Limit
Price
2014 Jean-Philippe Fichet Auxey-Duresses Blanc 5 $44.95 add
2016 Jean-Philippe Fichet Auxey-Duresses Blanc 1 $44.95 add
2017 Jean-Philippe Fichet Auxey-Duresses Blanc 7 $42.50 add
2016 Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc 12+ $29.95 add
2010 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault AG90 5 $74.95 add
2000 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres BH90 3 $110.00 add
2002 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres ST91 2 $115.00 add
2002 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres 1.5 L ST91 2 $230.00 add
2008 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres ST92 2 $89.95 add
2009 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres AG92
ST92
4 $84.95 add
2014 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres WK92 1 $95.00 add
2015 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres WK93 6 $89.95 add
2016 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Chevalieres WK92
JG92+
6 $89.95 add
2000 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Gruyaches 2 $95.00 add
2002 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Gruyaches ST92 8 $95.00 add
2004 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Gruyaches BH89-92
ST91
4 $84.95 add
2015 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Gruyaches WK92 6 $84.95 add
2016 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Gruyaches JG92 5 $84.95 add
2000 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson 3 $135.00 add
2004 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson 2 $99.95 add
2007 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson WA93 3 $115.00 add
2009 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson 1.5 L DEC93
AG91
6 $179.95 add
2011 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson AG92
JROB17
4 $89.95 add
2013 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson 1.5 L 6 $184.95 add
2015 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson WK93 6 $94.95 add
2017 Jean-Philippe Fichet Rully 12+ $34.95 add

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