TN: 2001 Fourrier GC Clos Saint Jacques - Right as Rain

Alarmed at the copious (but by no means universal) reports of failed bottles of this wine, I finally managed to dig out one from storage to see for myself. I am happy to report that this is a lovely wine, in terrific shape, but likely at its apogee. At least this bottle.

Light ruby with hints of bricking on the rim, little bouquet at first but the wine is complex and vibrant, with a lovely persistence that increases in intensity and weight with air. The bouquet also comes around with nice earth and spice notes. This is slightly better on day two, as the finish is even longer.

Delighted to hear it, Joe. I’ve had many Fourrier 01s all of which have been as they should have been though in general they have shut down fairly hard in the last eighteen months. The only exception was my last bottle of CSJ which was certainly bad rather than closed, but I hope this is an anomaly.

Joe,

Thanks for the note and count me in as one of those who are very happy to hear positive notes about the 1999-2001 era chez Fourrier. After opening four different bottlings (C-M, Champeaux, Clos Sorbés and Combe-aux-Moines) with varying degrees of volatility over the last six months, I’ve decided to just wait for three more years to see what’s up.
One question begs for an answer however: how do you reconcile this bottle reaching its apogee with the fact that it had improved on the second day? I will add that in my experience they rarely do so, probably due to the very low sulfur regime.

Mike:

I spent several enjoyable hours with Jean-Marie in March and I can tell you that he is at least as obsessed about premox as I am (in his case of both red and white wines). He believes that the same problems which plague white burgundy today will eventually show up in the reds as well. He believes that the problems are principally related to the declining quality of corks – mainly low density due to irrigation, more frequent harvesting, etc, peroxide bleaching and both the use of silicone/paraffin coatings and the change in the method by which they are now applied (now sprayed on vs. formerly tumbled on). He has changed his cork supplier, obtains only non-irrigated cork from trees harvested only every 12 years (from Corsica if memory serves) and his corks get no bleaching and don’t have any silicone or paraffin applied. They are simply boiled and bagged.

He is a strong believer in reductive winemaking and the use of CO2 during winemaking as an oxidation preventative. He also believes that low SO2 use has played a role with premox of the whites and as I recall, he is starting to use a bit more SO2 in his winemaking (at least on his white wine), though we didn’t discuss the levels. He was absolutely fascinated when I told him that Bouchard was now weighing all of their corks individually so as to exclude the low density corks.

I was surprised at how fast his 99 Clos St. Jacques has evolved. He served us some from a double magnum at the World of Pinot Noir Paulee event. I expected it to be backward, but it wasn’t. It was absolutely open for business and a remarkable wine.

Don,

Good to have you back here. That is quite interesting, but not surprising knowing Jean-Marie Fourrier’s general leanings. I have often wondered how the soft pressing, which seems to further aggravate the incidence of the p’ox, would affect red wines in the medium to long term.
By the way, I have recently bought three bottles of the CSJ 1999 from an excellent source and was really not planning on opening one before 2015. How would you gauge the upside -if any- of well stored bottles, given your recent large format experience?

Mike:

Thanks, I missed communicating with you and the others.

In answer to your question, I’m not really sure. I hadn’t opened any of my bottles before the Paulee dinner and when Jean-Marie told me he was going to bring it to dinner that night I was astonished. He assured me that the wine would be fine, even in large format, and Meadows was party to the conversation and agreed. Sure enough, Jean-Marie was right. I certainly started to wonder after that night what, if anything, this means for Fourrier’s longevity. Was his 99 CSJ just particularly forward? (I’ve had a few that are). Or was it so developed because it is going to have a shorter life span?

Or even not yet closed in this format? I have found these wines to close very much later than some others in some vintages, though they certainly do.

I had this recently.
Pristine and delicious. Still had a ways to go to be a pointe.
Too bad about the bottle variation because it has caused me to drink up.
Thanks for the note.

Mike,

My “at its apogee” comment was typed within the first hour after opening, and was based on the modest bricking and the way it presented then. Based on the way it held through day two I would say the wine has a ways to go. It did present as somewhat closed at first, and took two or three hours or more to open fully. It is definitely a grand cru-quality wine. I think I will check back in on another bottle in about a year or two.

I had several declining and two totally dead bottles of 01 Fourrier GC Combe au Moine in the last six months or so, so this one was a relief, especially given that I have at least a case of the CSJ, Griottes, and a few other 01s in deep storage. Haven’t touched the Griottes yet. The severe bottle variation in some of these wines is certainly disturbing, and I’ve experienced it in the Combe au Moine, but I have to admire J-M Fourrier for his conscientious approach to the issue. I loved his 06s and recently took delivery of some 07s (GC AC and Combe au Moine only, as the CSJ and Griottes have become stratosphere wines a la Mugnier, Roumier, and Rousseau).

I had Fourrier’s 2001 CSJ last month. It was an excellent wine but not an outstanding wine IMO, and clearly fully mature. It was a disappointment compared to the bottle I opened in January 2008, which was very youthful but very great… my TN concluded with “a grand cru experience tonight”. So that bottle in May 2010 was not a good sign.

I’ve had great success with Fourrier 2001 Chambolle-Musigny Gruenchers, drunk five times in the last three years, and each bottle was terrific.

As for the 1999’s, I had both CSJ and Griottes-Chambertin in January of this year, and both wines were flat-out amazing, exceptional now and promising a long future.