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Jean Baptiste Ponsot Rully Premier Cru Molesme 2014
When Ponsot assumed control of the domaine, he started to gradually plant the underutilized parcels of land owned by the estate. Valuing the health of the soil and environment, Ponsot does not use insecticide, herbicides, or harsh antifungals. He clears the parcels by hand and aeration-tills with tractors seven to eight times a year up till July 14th. Any synthetic treatments are mindfully chosen over organic alternatives on the basis that the specific synthetic products are less intrusive than the organically derived ones. In the same vein, Ponsot has established such a healthy microbiome that, in spite of the severe disease pressure of Burgundy, he is using copper at half the rate of his neighbors. He will be spraying copper treatments 4 times a year while others spray 8 times and supplementing the spray schedule with preventative and homeopathic methods to intervene before rot becomes an issue. The fruit is picked to stay below 13.5 points potential alcohol and still show a balanced acidity.
Jean-Baptiste is not interested in expanding his business. Rather, he is content with perfecting the long chain between the vine and the glass. It is a bold decision for a young grower who began without a single bottle with the domaine’s name on it to producing only 100% bottled wines—wines that cohere to the style of viticulture Ponsot practices. The goal is to produce wines with combativeness and intensity of depth, and the wines are considered “precise, taut and ripe.”
Exclusive for its bright and charming whites, Rully is optimally situated in the northern part of the Côte Chalonnaise where light and sandy soils create fresh Chardonnays. Here they have perfumes redolent of acacia or honeysuckle, with bright peach and lemon flavors and a flinty finish. With time, Rully whites evolve to fuller flavors of honey, quince and dried apricot.
Rully is also one of the best sources of premium sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne and while over two-thirds of Rully’s production is white grapes, its reds are also worth seeking out, especially as an introduction to Burgundy Pinot noir. Rully reds express pleasant aromas of rose, licorice and have ripe, red cherry fruit on the palate. Grésigny, Rabourcé, and Les Cloux are its most popular Premiers Crus.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.