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, Bâtard-Montrachet, and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet.
“Claudine’s grandfather said that perfectly ripe Chardonnay should smell like fresh almonds, so when she smells fresh almonds in the juice, she’s very happy,” says Jean-Marc Blain. Following the pressing, Chardonnay is inoculated with selected cultured yeast and fermentation occurs in barrel. The lees are stirred once a week until late December or, in some vintages, until February. White wines are aged in various percentages of new oak with 10-20% new oak for the village wines and up to 30% new oak for the premier and grands crus. Pinot Noir is de-stemmed and the grapes are cold soaked for three to four days followed by fermentation with native yeasts. Red wines are aged for 18 month in used barrels.