Jean-Jacques Girard Bourgogne Blanc 2022
A baby Savigny white. Its youthful vivacity tempered with a judicious use of oak yields a balance and a maturity beyond its years. That's the hand of the winemaker working with terroir that he was born to.
Jean-Jacque Girard's website says that his family was growing grapes in Savigny-les Beaune back in 1529. That, as the French say, is 'formidable', and would make the domain one of the oldest in Burgundy. But really what matters to us today is what happened to the domain in the past generation. In the late 90s, the original and venerable Domaine Girard-Vollot was split between Georges Girard's two sons Jean-Jacques and Phillipe. The original domain was about 38 acres. And since the split, Jean-Jacques has built his holdings back to over 40 acres, making it one of the most impressive domains in Savigny.
BURGUNDY 2022 VINTAGE
After three successive high-quality but low-quantity vintages, winemakers in Burgundy are refilling their cellars with an excellent 2022 harvest.This is not to say that it was an easy ride. Once again, frost, heat and drought put stress on the growing season, but timing is everything, and the extreme weather did much less damage than in previous years.
Winters have been wet and mild for years now. The winter of 2021-22 was not, with less than average rainfall and seasonal temperatures. Under these ‘normal’ conditions, we would expect budburst in the first half of April. But summer-like conditions at the end of March forced the vines, especially Chardonnay, to bud early, and we went into frost season with tender green buds exposed. There were two nights in the coming week below zero, but damage was limited.
Spring conditions set in in mid-April, but Summer followed soon thereafter, dry with spiky heat waves. The vines went wild. Winemakers fought to keep the growth under control. And the fight continued until flowering, which happened a couple of weeks early in mid-May.
The warm, dry conditions led to nearly-perfect flowering. We saw for the first time the potential of a great crop, with lots of beautiful, full, well-formed grape bunches; and an early harvest, with fruit setting well ahead of schedule.
But the drought held, and the fear was that this beautiful fruit would shrivel on the vine. Finally, at the end of June, the rain came. Summer storms bring with them the risk of hail, so all eyes were on the sky as the storms were sometimes violent causing significant but limited hail damage. The rains were intermittent, but regular for the next weeks. The cumulative rainfall would not be enough to see the crop through to harvest, however.
The heat waves continued through the rains, and so the risk of fungal disease, usually associated with wet conditions, dried up. But temperatures spiked and dry conditions set in again. The grapes ripened in a full-blown heat wave. Winemakers had to keep a close eye on sugar levels, as the risk was that ripeness could gallop away at the last minute.
And then, just about the time when it looked like an over-ripe mid-August harvest was imminent, it rained again. And the producers were able to let that water absorb into the fruit, increasing the volume of juice that was ultimately harvested in the first week of September.
2022, both white and red, are showing real depth and ripeness. And while there was once again very little malic acid, the tartaric acid holds the balance and structure together. Early tastings in the barrel show enormous charm and vitality. Very promising.
REGIONAL APPELLATION OF BURGUNDY
Generally considered the generic Burgundy wine, appellation Bourgogne, both red and white, can also be thought of as the model of what Burgundy wine should be. It is produced in almost all of the winemaking communes throughout Burgundy, and from the same grape varieties as the more specific appellations. This means that simple Bourgogne has the potential to express terroir and vintage. But because it can be produced by blending wines sourced from across the region, the quality and specificity of this appellation can be questionable. On the other hand, many Bourgogne are produced within a single commune and some even from a single vineyard. So as with all Burgundy wine, you need to know its pedigree and who made it.
The appellation Bourgogne is restricted to wines grown within the defined limits of the appellation:
Yonne 54 communes
Côte d’Or 91 communes
Saône et Loire 154 communes
Bourgogne Blanc is made from chardonnay, and the grape expresses itself differently in different parts of the region. Color is generally pale gold, ideally with good density and limpidity. Oak aging can add yellow tones, and vintage variations can shift the color spectrum. Bourgogne grown in the Yonne department and the Côte d’Auxerrois tend to share characteristics with the wines of Chablis, being earthy with a dusty, smoky minerality. In the Côte d’Or, Bourgogne whites are rare in the Côte de Nuits, but bountiful in the Côte de Beaune where they tend to be nutty and honeyed with lemony acidity. Further south in the Côte Chalonnaise and the department of the Saône et Loire you find riper, more floral wines with flinty minerality.
This wine is generally produced on sites at the foot of the slopes, but the nature of the soil varies according to each geographical situation. In the Côte-d'Or the soils are whitish or light grey marls and marly limestones, deep and not especially stony. The Yonne, in contrast, offers sloping calcareous sites, sometimes chalky as in the Tonnerrois district or on Kimmeridgian limestone as in Chablis and the Auxerrois, while in the Chalonnais and Mâconnais the broken landscape pushes up soils composed of limestone, clay and marl. And then in the southern Saône-et-Loire, a granitic component.
White – Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Bourgogne Blanc is among the most adaptable and food-friendly wines in the world. It pairs with traditional white wine dishes like poultry, fish and shellfish, but it is amazingly good with seeming opposites like spicy dishes and oriental seasonings. We prefer it to red wine with some of the stronger cheeses. And of course, it is the aperitif wine of choice in Burgundy.