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Though we’re not permitted to sell Caroline Lestimé’s Jean Noël Gagnard wine on our website, we have been customers for two decades and so she reserves a handful of cases every year for our longtime buyers, provided we keep it quiet. We’re sharing the opportunity here with the hope that you will as well. 

Most of you already know her entry-level white, “Sous Eguisons,” from a plot in the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune just above St-Aubin. It is bottled under screwcap, but don’t let the enclosure scare you away — it’s better wine than many far more expensive bottles with corks. There’s no 2021 Sous Eguisons available (the entire plot fell victim to the April frost that year), but we’re pleased that Caroline found us a bit more of the 2020 that many of you bought last year. Jasper Morris MW named the 2020 Sous Eguisons one of his five-star wines of the vintage, a designation generally reserved for premier cru and grand cru. He wrote: “this has the most beautiful bouquet,” “just the right degree of ripeness,” and “just the right acidity too.” We can confirm this is delicious wine in an outstanding vintage.

Caroline has offered us a little of her most renowned premier cru again this year. The Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru “Caillerets” is the domaine’s iconic cuvée, the one on which Jean-Noël made his reputation. It is always wonderful, but the critics especially loved the 2020 vintage. As Allen Meadows (“Burghound”) summed it up: “The domaine has long been a reliable source of excellent to even great whites but they have performed even better than usual in 2020.”  He praised the Caillerets’ “beautiful texture” and the “deft application of wood” to the “vaguely exotic aromas of white peach, lemon-lime and pretty floral whiffs.” He concluded: “This impeccably well-balanced effort should also repay a decade of keeping.” Jasper Morris was equally impressed, awarding it five stars, 94-97 points, and praising its “impeccable density,” “bright yellow plum fruit,” and “layers on layers.” He concluded: “Perfect balancing acidity. This has the power to age extremely well.” In short, this wine represents masterful work in a superb vineyard. 

We have not been able to offer Caroline’s Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru for a number of years, but there are finally a few bottles available to us in the 2020 vintage. Jasper Morris scored the 2020 vintage at 95-98 points. He thought the bouquet “shows all the majesty of this vineyard;” and found “superb intensity with a measured ripeness of fruit from these 48 year old vines.” He noted that these old vines are plowed by a horse named Croesus – an apt choice perhaps, given the budget required to drink this wine with any frequency. Burghound found that “An overtly floral-suffused nose speaks of white orchard fruit, star anise, citrus confit and a subtle exotic tea nuance.” He was equally effusive about the wine’s potential for evolution: “It would be largely pointless to open a bottle before at least 5 years of age. This beauty possesses first-rate potential provided you have the patience.” Perfectly aged Batard from Caroline have been some of the best whites we’ve ever drunk, and we expect this wine, from an outstanding vintage, to be something truly spectacular. Because of this wine’s scarcity (the family two year old can count as high as this allocation) and price, we’re selling it by the bottle – enter the max you’d like and we’ll do our best to get some for everyone who wants some.

Finally, we have a few cases of what Burghound thinks is “often Gagnard’s best red.” The Santenay premier cru “Clos de Tavannes” 2020 should provide a lot of pleasure.  We have bought this wine often over the years, and we expect good things from the excellent 2020 vintage.  Burghound praised its “pure and airy essence of red currant and raspberry that is trimmed in discreet floral nuances,” and its “subtle though still perceptible application of wood.” 

He also thought it had a “lovely texture,” and liked the “refined, punchy, and more mineral driven flavors” as well. Red wine from the white-wine areas of the Côte de Beaune has always had a place in our cellar. It has its own structure and pace of aging, and alternating it with the better-known reds from the Côte de Nuits will enhance your appreciation of both.     

(case prices)

Sous Eguisons 2020:   $395
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru “Caillerets” 2020:   $2,195
Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2020 (bottle price):   $795/bot

Santenay 1er cru rouge “Clos de Tavannes” 2020:  $795