When you start planning your wine range for a new business on a blank sheet of paper, where do you even start with Burgundy? 4,000 producers, 84 appellations across 200 miles, eye-watering prices for the really good stuff.
So I called up a French friend in the know and asked him who he could recommend that was an up-and-coming name, not selling to Ireland, with an organic and sustainable focus. He gave me an under-the-radar name (Laurent Fournier) making sensational wine in an under-the-radar region (Marsannay). Perfect.
As soon as I tasted Laurent’s wines, I knew I was onto something special.
For centuries the Fournier family did business the traditional Burgundy way - grew grapes and aged the wine in barrels, before selling them off to negociants who would bottle the wine for themselves. Laurent’s father Jean changed this in the 60s and started bottling the wines under Domaine Jean Fournier.
When Laurent took over in 2001, he took the business to another level, including implementing organic farming.
Laurent inherited 22 hectares of land in several sites across the Cote d’Or, and especially some amazing sites in Marsannay, one of the most underrated regions in Burgundy.
After the industrial revolution, Dijon became a big city. So Gamay was planted all around it to produce unspectacular red and rosé table wine for its thirsty inhabitants.
Marsannay struggled to shake off this image problem - so they started planting Pinot Noir like the rest of Burgundy. It finally gained appellation controlee status just 32 years ago... which makes it a young appellation by Burgundy standards.
And thanks to amazing producers like Laurent - Marsannay is finally getting the recognition it deserves.