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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 finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.