With his ascension to winemaker of the important Domaine Fourrier after stints with Domaine Drouhin in Oregon and tutelage from one Henri Jayer, one wouldn't blame Jean-Marie Fourrier for carrying himself with an air of superiority. But that just wouldn't befit a man who works so tirelessly and selflessly, caring for the ancient vines of his father's winery with such passion that he has elevated its name to the top echelon of Burgundy Domaines.
Founded in the 1930s by Fernand Pernot, the estate came to be known as Pernot-Fourrier after Fernand's nephew Jean-Claude Fourrier came into the fold, fully taking control in 1969. The foresight of adding a wealth of vineyard land early on has become the backbone of what exists today, as Fourrier owns vineyards in Gevrey, Chambolle, Morey-Saint-Denis and Vougeot, 10 hectares all told. One of the very first Burgundy Domaines to export to the US, Fourrier had faced a small decline in the 1980s, but Jean-Marie's emergence provided the spark to elevate Fourrier to what we know today.
The Domaine Fourrier owns almost exclusively old-vine plots; Jean-Marie's focus is not only vine health, but vine age - any vine short of 30 years of age does not get its fruit added to the Domaine wines, and the overall age averages between 50 and 70 years across all vineyards. These naturally-developed vines are only pruned back in the winter time, allowing them to do their own work without any removal of clusters through the growing season. The yearly quest is simple: he wants the full expression of his vineyards in each bottle.
As with his mentor Jayer, Fourrier performs a cold-soak and de-stems (almost all of) his grapes. He's dogmatic about preserving freshness and flavor in his wines, so no more than 20% new oak is used across all cuvées. In the same vein, there is no racking, and the best cuvées are often bottled right from the cask.
The array of vineyards is impressive, highlighted by perhaps the finest Griotte-Chambertin made today, as well as the famous Clos-St.-Jacques. Jean-Marie has created a micro-negoce label under his own name, where through long-term leases of stellar vineyards he follows the same practices with vineyards outside of his family holdings. The wines are of essentially the very same, high quality.
We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have a vintage such as 2022 to kick off our partnership with Jean-Marie; he considers 2022 to be similar in some ways to 2019 and 2020 in its balance and ripeness, but unlike the earlier vintages 2022 blessed the vineyards with early rains to give the vines ample nutrients to survive the warm summer months. The harvest was done in early September, and the old vines produced low yields of incredible quality. Early returns are showing wines enjoyable in their youth but with extreme potential.