A PENCHANT FOR POUILLY-FUISSE

By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman  8 October 2016

White Burgundy lovers with a penchant for Pouilly-Fuisse should take note.  The latest vintage on our winemerchant shelves for this southern Maconnais appellation is 2014 – and what a great vintage this is.

Perfect weather conditions at harvest meant growers could pick all their vineyards when ripe, rather than compromise and pick early if rain is forecast.  2014 was warmer and more bountiful than cooler wetter 2013, so expect beautifully ripe Chardonnays with balanced acidity and real fruit concentration in 2014.

My current favourite producers in the villages of Fuisse, Solutre-Pouilly, Chaintre and Vergisson, the communes which make up the famous appellation of Pouilly-Fuisse – are Christophe Cordier, Frederic-Marc Burrier at Chateau de Beauregard and Olivier Merlin.  All the Pouilly-Fuisse in our tasting were oaked in some way – but the style differs from light oak, more pronounced new oak, lees stirring and yields levels which determine the fruit concentration.  The tasting also showed there are now many more good producers than a decade ago – one example is Roger and Christine Saumaize-Michelin’s single vineyard Pouilly Fuisses are also worth searching out.

Like its neighbour Beaujolais, Maconnais has never had its own classification – even though the rest of Burgundy does.  At the time the growers of Maconnais did not apply for Premier Crus.  Now with such a large well-known appellation as Pouilly-Fuisse, there is a tendency for some to exploit the name (about 5 million bottles are produced annually from the appellation’s 800 hectares) – and it is difficult for the consumer to pick the best bottles without rigorously following certain producers.

There is now a move afoot in Pouilly-Fuisse to persuade the powers at INAO to establish a Premier Cru classification.  Frederic-Marc Burrier of Chateau de Beauregard is now leading the commission – this is exactly what this appellation needs due to the variability of limestone outcrops in the climats, varied microclimates and different vineyard terroirs here. 

Here are my current favourite Pouilly-Fuisses on the shelves of UK retailers:


UNDER £20

Pouilly Fuisse Domaine Guerrin OddbinsPOUILLY-FUISSE VIEILLES VIGNES 2014 Domaine Guerrin et Fils  ***STAR BUY***
(£18 Oddbins)
Maurice Guerrin owns 35 different plots between Solutre and Vergisson. His family have been making wine here since 1926 – he is the 4th generation to work their 14 hectares of clay limestone soils.  The key is that the vines are a minimum of 40 years old and yields are kept low.  Our tasters found this a beautifully elegant white burgundy with gentle oaking, succulent citrus fruits and a long length for the price [pictured right]: 13%


POUILLY-FUISSE 2015 Christophe Cordier
(£16.99 Majestic Wine Scotland)
Christophe Cordier’s cellar overlooks the two villages of Pouilly and Fuisse from the south.  He is a superb Maconnais producer with fanatically neat cellar and a particular style favouring late picking and low yields; this creamy succulent Chardonnay typifies this style.  He vinifies his 100 parcels of grapes separately, then produces a range of cuvees.  He uses less new oak in this wine – just 15% of the wine was fermented in new oak:  13.5%


POUILLY-FUISSE 2013 Marc Dudet    ***GOOD VALUE***
(£15.99 Waitrose)
Waitrose are listing the 2009 on their website, but currently selling 2013 vintage.  Pretty classic in style: zippy, refreshing, light oak, light creaminess, rounded, touch of minerality and a very good price for this appellation.  Our tasters picked this as good value example [pictured above]: 13%


POUILLY-FUISSE EXHIBITION 2013/2014 Frederic-Marc Burrier
(£18 The Wine Society)
Sixth generation family vigneron at Chateau de Beauregard, Frederic-Marc Burrier is now a leading light in Pouilly Fuisse : 22 of his 42 hectares are in Pouilly-Fuisse appellation and he makes no less than 12 different Pouilly-Fuisses.  His wine style is beautifully elegant, very ripe and very long: 13%


OVER £20

POUILLY-FUISSE EN VERGISSON 2013 Deux Montille
(£24.99 Virgin Wines)
De Montille is a famous name in Burgundy – ‘Deux Montille Soeur Frere’ is a new name created by two members of the family: Alix & Etienne de Montille – children of the famous Hubert.  Well-made rich and concentration, although some tasters found this a little over-oaked in comparison to others in the tasting: 12.5%


POUILLY-FUISSE 2014 Chateau de Chaintre
(£22.99 Aitken Wines, Dundee; Fine Wine Co, Musselburgh)
A very elegant style with rich citrus fruits, minerally with just a touch of oak.  Made by Yannick Paquet, who now runs this small family domaine in Chaintre – just 4 hectares in Pouilly-Fuisse appellation but the vines are over 35 years old.  A popular wine with our tasters who preferred crisper more Chablis-like Chardonnays: 13%                                      


Pouilly Fuisse wine review by Rose Murray Brown MWPOUILLY-FUISSE LES COURTELONGS 2013 Domaine Saumaize-Michelin   ***STAR BUY***
(£22 Raeburn Wines, Stockbridge, Edinburgh)
If you visit Vergisson you will find several Saumaize – this is made by Roger and Christine Saumaize-Michelin (Christine’s maiden name was Michelin) who make really elegant Pouilly-Fuisse from their 9.5 hectare estate.  I particularly like their 2013 vintage, if you can find it.  Smoky oak nose, citric flavours and creamy leesy palate: 13%
                            

POUILLY-FUISSE VIEILLES VIGNES 2014 Oliver Merlin  ***STAR BUY***
(£27.95 Berry Bros & Rudd www.bbr.com)
Pouilly Fuisse Vieilles Vignes Oliver MerlinMerlin’s Vieilles Vignes, which comes from Pouilly Fuisse’s heartland, used to be labelled under ‘Terroirs de Fuisse.  This is beautifully dense, rich, intense, well-integrated oak, pronounced natural acidity and just so concentrated – a clear winner in the over £20 section for its elegance and weight: 13.5%


POUILLY-FUISSE 2014 Domaine Ferret
(£24.99 Vino Wines, Edinburgh www.vinowines.co.uk; www.cheerswinemerchants.co.uk)
I found the 2013 vintage of Ferret’s Pouilly-Fuisse nuttier and rounder, but with time this 2014 will be good.  Currently a little too youthful and taut, but with good minerality, it could just do with a little maturity.  Ferret is owned by large Burgundian negociants, Louis Jadot: 13%


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