For centuries Burgundy has swung back and forth between two models of winemaking: domaine bottling, where a winemaker makes wines from grapes he grows himself; and negociant, where a house buys grapes from local vignerons and crafts them into wine. With a few exceptions, most of the top names in Burgundy are the former (grower-producer) model, with the winemaker shepherding his product all the way from vine to wineglass.
But recent tiny, high quality vintages have turned the clock back a bit, and many famous domaines have started negociant operations on the side. These are terrific winemakers with half- or quarter-full cellars: they have their name, perfect facilities, decades of experience – the only thing they lack is supply.
There’s no better example of this trend than the Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard, whose white Burgundies from Chassagne-Montrachet are some of the most sought after in the world. Winemaker Caroline Lestimé has extended her considerable technical cellar skill to a new negociant label, and the results are outstanding.
The premier cru “Maltroie” vineyard lies in the center of the town of Chassagne-Montrachet, just feet from the Gagnard domaine. It produces regal, classic Chassagne, showing depth and golden richness. While this cuvée doesn’t quite match the splendor of the Clos de la Maltroye under the JN Gagnard label, it comes with far friendlier pricing, and an extra two years of bottle age.
From one of the top white Burgundy vintages of the last decade, the 2017 Lestimé Chassagne 1er cru “La Maltroie” is still fresh and youthful after two years in the bottle. The nose is pretty and sophisticated, with notes of white flowers and hazelnut. The mouth is deep and powerful, every bit a premier cru – look for notes of baked lemon, silky sleek texture, and a long vibrant finish. This is Caroline showing offer just how good a winemaker she is, and we’re happy to be along for the ride.
1er cru “La Maltroie” 2017
bottle price: $115
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