Burgundy, Wine Reviews, Winemaker Profiles

Jean-Marie Fourrier on 2012 vintage conditions


The last time I spoke to Jean-Marie Fourrier it was November 2011 in his cellar in Gevrey-Chambertin. He gave a very clear and poignant portrait of the vines after the wet summer of 2011. As I mentioned in my previous post, he explained how, by the time winter had arrived, the plant was confused by the unusual weather patterns. At the end of 2011, the stalks had not turned from green to wood completely so an unusual second sprouting happened again in winter. Especially for those who had not handled the mildew.

I asked him, “So… what happened next?”

Jean-Marie echoed many winemakers sentiments from when I visited in Burgundy in November this year – the volumes in 2012 are drastically low. There was a problem with flowering especially in the very old vineyards.

He told me how he saw one row of vines with fruit and the one next to it completely without fruit. Every second row in some places had ZERO fruit. The volumes are down by a troubling 60%. After 2010, 2011 and now 2012 the volume they have lost equals one whole year of harvest.

If a winemaker owns a vineyard they can absorb the shock; however, if a winemaker rents a vineyard they still have to pay the rent and there will be a lot of difficulty. Other people also mentioned the problem of credit by French banks, in this economic climate in Europe this is a little worrying. The prices are not up this year, but looking around the cellars over the past couple of years there is not much back stock, so prices may go up on whatever is left of older vintages.

Armit Wines are offering his Gevrey-Chambertin in 3-bottle cases. They are a life-affirming experience. The Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques is one of my favourites: it has an energy and life and depth and silkiness and all at once it is pure blue Gevrey fruit and the unmistakable Burgundy taste of granite  – or were they other crushed jewels: rubies and sapphires?