Jean-Marc Blain – Domaine Blain-Gagnard

Jean-Marc Blain married Claudine, daughter of Jacques Gagnard, to create his estate. He originally comes from Veaugues, close to Sancerre, but met Claudine while studying in Burgundy and rapidly defected. They have now been joined by son Marc-Antonin, who has been gaining experience in Australia and New Zealand.

Technically he is very straight forward using the lute raisonée philosophy in the vineyard, with ploughing between rows, crushing then pressing of the whites, débourbage (settling the juice, pouring off the solids to get a finer wine), fermentation in barrel, lees-stirring, one racking, then blending in tank and bottling just before the new harvest for whites.

There is minimum extraction for the reds so as not to let intransigent Chassagne tannins come into play.

However, the key is Jean-Marc Blain’s temperament and how it infuses all the small decisions. He pursues the route of elegance rather than power, selecting the coopers carefully (he particularly likes Minier in Chagny) and indeed his forests, while eschewing the overt influence of new oak.

He uses just 10-15% new barrels for village and premier cru wines and 30 % for the grand crus.

Here are a couple of examples of his vineyards:

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets – 0.56H – year 2013.

Their plot runs the full length of the vineyard: the marble above give weight to the wine, the white soil lower down provides elegance and finesse.

Edmond Delagrange-Bachelet (Claudine’s grandparents) insisted they should be blended for the best results, and this certainly makes for a very complete wine, with subtleties of flavour despite its evident power.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Boudriotte – 0.81H 

The white chalky soil of Boudriotte is so different from the rest of its Morgeot holdings that Blain-Gagnard bottles this wine apart. On the one hand the lifted fruit is stylish and appealing, but the backbone of acidity makes this a vin-de-garde as well.