Patrick Piuze "1953" Bourgogne Aligote 2019
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
After running a wine bar in Montreal for two years, Patrick Piuze moved to Burgundy in 2000 and for his first autumn there he spent the harvest with Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet. Shortly after, Piuze was entrusted with the vinification of Laflaive’s new Chablis project and Patrick spent four years there honing his skills as a winemaker. Next, he spent a year at Verget with Jean-Marie Guffens where he developed a passion for exploring the distinct terroirs of Chablis. At this point in his career, he was earning recognition for the high quality wines he was making and after just a year at Verget, Jean-Marc Brocard recruited him to be cellar master and head wine maker. During this period, Piuze realized there was much more he was capable of achieving and made the most important decision of his life: to set out on his own and bottle under his own name. Not one to ease into things slowly, his first vintage in 2008 consisted of 20 different bottlings, all Chablis except for one.
Piuze purchases all his fruit (never must or juice) and focuses on sourcing grapes from old-vines situated in prime locations. Interestingly, these vineyards are available because their location on the slopes makes them more difficult to work and impossible to machine harvest. This suits Piuze since he chooses to harvest every vineyard by hand anyway, even at the Petit Chablis and Village level! He has long-term contracts with his growers and only works with producers who are practicing sustainable viticulture. He has his own wine-making facility where he uses temperature controlled steel tanks and only used barrels for the fermentation and élevage – no new oak here. The approach in the cellar is hands-off; indigenous yeasts are used and nothing is added nor taken away. Piuze believes that Chardonnay is perfect for showcasing the expression of the various terroirs of Chablis, and each of his many bottlings captures a distinctive facet of the region.
Despite doing nearly all the work himself, Piuze seems to have limitless energy and drive. He seems to be in a constant state of excitement and his incredible wines echo his liveliness and sincerity. Though his first vintage was just in 2008, Piuze already has the makings of a legendary producer.
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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 for Burgundy wine, 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 Burgundy wines 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.
A native but unique white grape to Burgundy, Aligoté is a light bodied white that often ends up unfairly lost in Chardonnay’s shadow. In Côte Chalonnaise, in a quaint village named Bouzeron, just south of the Côte de Beaune, Aligoté has its very own appellation where yields are limited in order to enhance flavors, acidity and overall quality. Somm Secret—Curiously, the famous producer, Domaine Ponsot, bottles a 100% Aligoté from its Premier Cru in Morey-Ste-Denis, Les Monts Luisants, made from Aligoté vines planted in 1911.