Chateau Fuisse Pouilly-Fuisse Tete de Cru 2008
This is a great example of the true potential of the wines of Pouilly-Fuissé and a great introduction to the wines of Chateau Fuissé. The wine is rich and robust in the mouth, but retains it's lean acidity and freshness throughout.
A 15th Century tower flanks Chateau Fuisse, a family home whose history is evidenced by a number of 300 year old artifacts and adornment. The estate of Chateau Fuisse includes vines exceeding 60 years of age that are vinified and bottled separately as Vieilles Vignes -a remarkably powerful, intense Chardonnay with aging capability of up to 15 years or more in bottle. The "normal" Chateau Fuisse is also a selection from older vines at least 25 years of age, and as a rule is focused and concentrated, rich yet very firmly held together. From the estate, three further bottlings come from individual plots or climates: Le Clos, a profound, powerful Chardonnay from the dense clay enclosure behind the chateau; Les Combettes, a superbly aromatic wine of great finesse from a very stony calcareous clay slope; and Les Brules, a south facing slope "burnt" by the sun. All the wines bearing the chateau label are barrel fermented in various oaks. The current owner and winemaker is Jean-Jacques Vincent, great-grandson of the founder, now assisted by his daughter Benedicte. A professor of enology, Jean-Jacques is as alert to modern innovations as he is loyal to proven traditional methods.
A legendary wine region setting the benchmark for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay worldwide, Burgundy is a perennial favorite of many wine lovers. While the concept of ‘terroir’ reigns supreme here—soil type, elevation and angle of each slope—this is a region firmly rooted in tradition. Because of the Napoleonic Code requiring equal distribution of property and land among all heirs, vineyard ownership in Burgundy is extremely fragmented, with some growers responsible for just one or two rows of vines. This system has led to the predominance of the "negociant"—a merchant who purchases fruit from many different growers to vinify and bottle together.
Burgundy’s cool, continental climate and Jurassic limestone soils are perfect for the production of elegant, savory and mineral-driven Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with plenty of acidity. Vintage variation is of particular importance here, as weather conditions can be variable and unpredictable. In some years spring frost and hail must be overcome.
The Côte d’Or, a long and narrow escarpment, forms the heart of the region, split into the Côte de Nuits to the north and the Côte de Beaune to the south. The former is home to many of the world’s finest Pinot Noir wines, while Chardonnay plays a much more prominent role in the latter, though outstanding red and white are produced throughout. Other key appellations include the Côte Chalonnaise, home to great value Pinot Noir and sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne. The Mâconnais produces soft and round, value-driven Chardonnay while Chablis, the northernmost region of Burgundy, is a paradise for any lover of bright, acid-driven and often age-worthy versions of the grape.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.