Jean-Philippe Fichet: excellent white Burgundy

Yes, I realize I’ve been writing about white Burgundy or red Burgundy a fair amount (well really I haven’t been writing about anything a fair amount as you can see from the paucity of posts… such is life these days) and I promise I will soon write more about Bordeaux, or Cali cabs, or Rioja or something other than Burgundy… Soon enough, but for today I want to point out another very good domaine that remains somewhat of a “value” in the ridiculously priced sphere of Burgundy these days. With that, let me bring to your palate the lovely wines of Jean-Philippe Fichet!

Fichet is a producer who I have only been buying/drinking for about 2-3 years now, but the wines have been very consistent and have consistently performed above their level and price point. I should probably be keeping these pseudo-values to myself, but I’m working on being less selfish these days so I suppose I’ll spread the word. Fichet is primarily based out of Meursault and this is where most of his wines are from. Interestingly, he does not have any 1er cru parcels in Meursault! So all of his production here is village level. He does bottle several single vineyard or single “lieux dit” wines within the village though. He does have a bit of 1er cru in Puligny Les Referts, but I have never tasted this wine so I will not comment on it. He also makes regional Bourgogne and Auxey-Duresses. I’d be remiss not to mention the reds which from the few I’ve sampled are also very tasty and solid values (especially the regional Bourgogne rouge), but as he is primarily known as a white wine producer and that is most of what I have sampled, I’ll stick to those.

I will start with the Bourgogne and Auxey-Duresses which are the two best values in my opinion. Fichet makes a straight Bourgogne blanc and a Bourgogne blanc Vielles Vignes. Both are excellent. The regular Bourgogne is as you would expect fairly straightforward, but has very good energy and minerality in addition to tasty orchard fruits and lemon. It is generally available for around $25 and is as good or better than any other white Burg I’ve had in that price range. The Vielles Vignes bottling is from a vineyard that abuts the 1er cru vineyard of Meursault Les Charmes. It likely should be classified as village Meursault and certainly drinks like one. It has another level of concentration and depth and has enough stuffing to age reasonably. I had a bottle of 2005 in 2017 that was very impressive for a regional cuvee. Honeyed orchard fruits, acacia blossom, hazelnut, baked lemon, and ginger were present on the complex nose. The palate was balanced, but clearly had another level of stuffing compared to the straight Bourgogne. It is generally more expensive, around $40-50, but given that it has a reasonable track record of aging, is essentially village Meursault with a different name, and has been consistently well received in recent years, I think it is a pretty killer value and if you come across a bottle it is definitely worth a try. Considering the Meursault Les Charmes that is right next to it generally sells for $100-250 depending on the producer its quite a steal! The Auxey-Duresses is similar in my mind. An under the radar wine that is an excellent value. I’ve only been able to try one vintage so far, 2014, but I’ve had several bottles and all have been delicious. The first couple were so bright and incisive they reminded me of Chablis or Sancerre. My most recent bottle in summer 2019 had put on a bit of weight and was even better. Still very bright and racy with excellent minerality, yet a bit more depth. This is a somewhat difficult wine to find, but it is generally around $40 if you look for it and well worth that.

Finally, lets move on to the village Meursaults. Here there are 4 available options; a straight village Meursault, then 3 lieux dit (single vineyard) wines: Chevaliers, Tessons, and Gruyaches. I’ve had a few of the regular Meursault which is made from 7 different parcels throughout the village. It has been consistently excellent. The 2015 would fool you into thinking its a 2014 it has so much minerality and freshness! I would never guess it to be from a warm vintage tasting it blind. It also has very good concentration for a village level wine. That is something I’ve noticed throughout the range of Fichet, his wines all seem to have a lovely display of mineral/stone/earth notes. Don’t let this fool you into thinking the wines are thin and citric as they are definitely not, but the vein of minerality throughout the range is certainly notable.

Of the single vineyard cuvees, I’ve only been able to sample the Gruyaches to this point. Both the 2010 and 2011 were excellent. The 2010 which I had in 2018 was stellar, my tasting note is below:

This is simply put a classic and lovely Meursault. The nose is like walking through ripe orchards and tasting the fruits, with underlying hazelnut and floral notes, and just a hint of crushed rocks. The palate is rich and unctuous, but retains excellent freshness and vibrancy with a lovely mineral finish. Really delicious. I drank it out of concern for premox, but this bottle was pristine and assuming it holds, would be fabulous in another 10 years.

From my reading about Fichet, the Chevaliers and Tessons are often considered to be better than the Gruyaches and are consistently scored similar to the 1er cru Puligny by critics. I’ve recently acquired some bottles of each, but have not had the chance to taste them yet. The village cuvees are a bit more expensive, but in the realm of white Burgundy today remain very good “values”. The straight village is often available around $50-60 while the single vineyard wines are generally more in the $80-90 range. Considering that these wines for me drink very similar to many 1er crus that still puts them in the value category. When you consider that most 1er cru Puligny or Meursault starts at $100 and the better producers like Leflaive, Comtes Lafon, Roulot, Jobard etc start closer to $150-200, $80 sounds like a bargain.

The wines of Fichet are well worth looking for. They offer an interesting look at the terroirs of Meursault through various single vineyards, are consistently excellent in my samplings, and have a driving minerality and freshness to them that makes you wonder how Meursault used to be described as buttery and nutty! Not only this, but they remain fairly priced for the most part in the absurd market of todays Burgundy. So if you find one and you enjoy classically styled white Burgundy, grab a bottle and see what you think.

J. Newman, CSW


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