Domaine Blain-Gagnard Criots-Batard-Montrachet 2002
It’s easy to assume that Criots would have the same richness and weight as Bâtard, its next-door neighbor. In fact, Criots is the most delicate of the five Grand Crus in the vicinity. The wines are more about perfume and delicacy with fine structure and intense minerality, and is from vines planted between 1929 and 1979.
With its rich texture and toasted flavors, Criots-Batard-Montrachet pairs well with white fish and shellfish, and its naturally high acidity can counterbalance cream-based sauces. Oak-aging lends itself well to grilled fish, starches, butter, and toasted nuts.
Domaine Blain-Gagnard was formed in 1980 when Jean-Marc Blain (a Sancerrois) married Claudine Gagnard, youngest daughter of Jacques and Marie-Josèphe Gagnard of Domaine Gagnard-Delagrange. The couple runs this venerable domaine with the help of their son Marc-Antonin. Jean-Marc Blain and Claudine Gagnard met while they were both studying oenology at Dijon. The estate's vineyards come mainly from grandparents and other relatives of Claudine, along with a few purchases. The vines are planted in Chardonnay (55%) and the rest in pinot noir, with a small parcel of Passetoutgrain. They now control 20.5 acres of vines in Chassagne-Montrachet, including holdings in three grands crus: Le Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, and Criots-Batard-Montrachet.
A Côte de Beaune village most famous for its beautifully textured and powerful whites, Chassagne-Montrachet reaches farthest south in the Côte d’Or, save for the village of Santenay. It has three Grands Crus vineyards: Le Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet. Le Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet overlap with and are (confusingly) shared with the village of Puligny-Montrachet. But Chassagne-Montrachet bears sole ownership of the Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru.
The beauty doesn’t stop there as the village has a great many outstanding Premiers Crus wines and village level wines. Most famous Premiers Crus vineyards include Les Chenevottes, Clos de la Maltroie, En Cailleret and Les Ruchottes. Also, village level wines offer many lovely examples of what Chassagne-Montrachet has to offer, but at more approachable price points and perhaps less demand of waiting.
The best sites in Chassagne-Montrachet have complex soils of sedimentary rock and limestone (with less marl). Whites, which are by law composed of 100% Chardonnay (as in all classified white Burgundy from Côte d’Or), have steely power, bright and concentrated citrus, stone or tropical fruit characteristics and attractive textures ranging from plush to tactile, grippy and mineral-driven.
There is some fine Pinot Noir produced from the village. These wines tend to be high-toned and earthy, with wild herb aromas and suave tannins.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.