Most famous for their Bonnes-Mares and their ‘Clos Marion’, the family business of Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair was founded about 1979 when Jean-Louis Fougeray, the father of the current owners, a man who by day worked in administration and by night tending his vines, made his very first cuvée. It was from a quarter hectare of Marsannay vines – in the family since 1972 – this was the start for Domaine Fougeray.
That Marsannay cuvée was only 500 bottles and Jean-Louis took them all to Paris to sell. Laurence Olliver (née Fougeray) says that her father was ‘born to work in the vineyard, it was his passion’. If Jean-Louis took the first steps to commercialisation, it was his father (the grandfather of Laurence and her sister Evelyne) that sowed the seeds for the size of the current operation (18 hectares); he had worked with the Clair family of the renowned Clair-Daü estate and there was a strong bond of friendship. That bond continued into the next generation with Bernard Clair and Jean-Louis Fougeray. For family reasons that are best left in the Clair family, in 1986 Bernard Clair was retiring and decided that he would lease some vines to his friend Jean-Louis Fougeray who was by then already exploiting 11 hectares, rather than as expected pass them to the next generation of the Clairs. Those were not just any old vines, they included a special parcel of Bonnes-Mares, some Chambolle-Musigny and more Marsannay. In so doing, they grounded the re-named Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair – ‘Beauclair’ coming from a blend of Jean-Louis’ wife’s name and Clair.
Day to day responsibility for the domaine now rests with Jean-Louis’ daughter Laurence and her husband Patrice Olliver. They also own a wine-making operation in the Languedoc (Mas Val Grieux) which, starting in 1999 they created themselves, rather than buying an existing operation. Jean-Louis still works, but now in the Languedoc.
Vineyards and Wines
The approach is lutte raisonée, the domaine avoids chemical sprays, vineyard pests being controlled with sexual confusion methods (pheromones) and they use only certified organic compost. They exploit a broad mix of vines including Savigny, Côte de Nuits Villages, Vosne, Chambolle, Gevrey, Fixin and Marsannay, particularly interesting are some of the following:
The Bonnes-Mares is a famous cuvée, coming on a long-term lease from Bernard Clair. The 40 year-old vines (1.61 hectares) accounted for the totality of that portion of Bonnes-Mares in the commune of Morey St.Denis. These vines formed part of the famous Clair-Daü estate which was in-part sold to Louis Jadot, so Fougeray de Beauclair inherited the obligation to keep selling one third of their Bonnes Mares grapes Jadot. From 2005, Fougeray took 100% of the parcel, but it changed again in 2006 with the death of Bernard Clair. The reason for that change was that Bernard had requested that on his death, the domaine should return 0.4 hectares to the Clair family – in this case the domaine of Bruno Clair. The team at Fougeray say this was never a written instruction so it was entirely possible that they could have kept the whole portion, but they honoured the memory of Bernard by following through his wish. I only have experience of one vintage and that’s the 1998 – it’s a tannic beast that needs keeping for at least another 5 years before approaching again.
The Fixin Clos Marion is a 3.1621 hectare monopole of the domaine since 1994 and is a long-term lease from the old Domaine Marion. Domaine Marion had many vineyards in Fixin but eventually concentrated on the these vines because they found them the best, even building the stout and high wall which you see today. The Clos is just on your left-hand side as you approach the village from the north. A tiny 0.3 hectare part of the vineyard is planted to chardonnay – currently enough for 2 barrels though 5 or 6 is a long-term possibility – and 2006 is the first vintage. The rest is based on vines from 1946, though Patrice replanted another 0.3 hectare section about 2002 “the old vines looked very nice, but with a yield of 1hl/ha…”
Marsannay St.Jacques sits at the top of the hill in Marsannay and takes its name from all the fossilised scallopss and other sea-shells that litter this limestone grounded vineyard. The vines were planted between 1970 and 1980 and 95% of this vineyard is owned by the domaine – there is another 5% section, but this is not currently exploited by the owner. There is also a white wine (about 2,000 bottles) produced from the vineyard – 100% pinot blanc.
The first vintage for this. Faint pineapple and even fainter honey on the nose. Fresh with slightly forward acidity but this acidity really helps open-out the flavours on the palate. Lingers quite well giving a savoury impression. Quite nice.
Medium, medium-pale colour. On the nose it shows soft, powdery red fruit and a deeper, sweeter core. Mouth-filling without overt concentration. Some tannin and good acidity underpinned by a creamy background. This is very nice.
The nose is much tighter with dried red fruits. This is also rather mouth-filling but just a little softer. The acidity is a little more forward though the tannin is finer. I feel a little more intensity but this is less friendly today than the 2006. Good length.
100% Pinot Blanc (locally Pinot Beurot). Deep aromatics that are sweet and show a hint of gunflint. Generous and soft, slightly prickly acidity that pushes into and lengthens the finish – lingers well.
The nose shows herbs and faint cedar. Fresh with medium body but ebulient acidity that pushes the finish quite long. Those who buy Mercurey should try some of this.