• The battle to get Pouilly-Fuissé Premier Cru recognition

    The wines of Pouilly and Fuissé have long been recognised as “first class,” in fact at the start of the Nineteenth Century scholars put the wines on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet. But the Mâconnais is still the only region in Burgundy that does not have vineyard hierarchy. Before lockdown LM Archer travelled to the region to find out how the thirteen-year application for Premier Cru status was progressing for a number of climats, a process that has been temporarily closed down because of the virus.

    The wines of Pouilly and Fuissé have long been recognised as “first class,” in fact at the start of the Nineteenth Century scholars put the wines on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet. But the Mâconnais is still the only region in Burgundy that does not have vineyard hierarchy. Before lockdown LM Archer travelled to the region to find out how the thirteen-year application for Premier Cru status was progressing for a number of climats, a process that has been temporarily closed down because of the virus.

    mm By June 10, 2020

    “Some climats in Pouilly-Fuissé will finally be classified as Premier Cru, the recognition of hard work on the part of the winegrowers, but also the recognition of the quality of the terroirs of southern Bourgogne, which has long been underestimated,” says Anne Moreau

    Burgundy lacks a vineyard hierarchy in only one region – the connais. That may well change soon.

    At this time, Pouilly-Fuissé awaits Premier Cru appellation approval from the National Institute for Appellations of Origin (INAO). The proposed Appellation d’Origin (A.O.C.)  includes 22 climats among four villages: Chaintré, Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly and Vergisson. These villages produce only white wine from Chardonnay.

    Pouilly-Fuissé
    Frédéric Marc Burrier, president of Union des Producteurs de Pouilly-Fuisse © LM Archer

    Egalité, fraternité, hiérarchie

    The southernmost region of Burgundy (traditionally called Bourgogne) enjoys a maverick reputation. Yet, despite its lack of hierarchical heritage, history nonetheless ranks Mâcon wines highly. Even famed French wine writer André Jullien notes in his Topographie de tous les vignobles connus (“Topography of all Known Vineyards,” 1816) the wines of Pouilly and Fuissé as first class,on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet.

    Thus determined to fulfill this destiny, Frédéric Marc Burrier, president of Union des Producteurs de Pouilly-Fuissé from 2003-2020, initiated the premier classification application process in 2007. “Throughout its history, Pouilly has been an island of success,” says Burrier, propietor of Maison Joseph Burrier and Château de Beauregard in Fuissé“From all levels.”

    From the outset of the application, Pouilly-Fuissé worked with the INAO analysing its terroir, including elevation, aspect, slope, and soils. A detailed map outlining the appellation’s 217 lieux-dits, or legally registered cadastral sites, resulted. Subsequent studies drilled down into each climat’s history, cultural practices, and historic pricing, as well as blind tastings conducted by a panel of experts.

    But Burrier also needed buy-in from the 250 Pouilly-Fuissé producers, some of whom farm less than 2 hectares. It took five years of discussion,says Burrier. It took time to convince colleagues to work together for approval.” Ultimately, 94 percent of union members approved the Pouilly-Fuissé project in September 2017, a testament to Burrier’s vision, drive and diplomacy.

    Pouilly-Fuissé
    © LM Archer

    Past, present, pandemic

    Finally, in November 2019, the INAO announced the final phase of Pouilly-Fuissé’s trudge towards Premier Cru certification. First, a period of review and comments from January 15 to March 15, 2020, followed by the committee’s ultimate conclusion.

    Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a mandatory national lockdown in March, postponing the review process. Sophie Mauriange, chargée de communication for the INAO, acknowledges “…because of the health state of emergency proclaimed in France, the deadline for receipt of objections is extended. The balance of objections received will be presented at a future committee meeting whose date is not yet known.”

    France’s lifting of lockdown restrictions frees the INAO to reach a decision. Clearly, Premier Cru classification will elevate Pouilly-Fuisséboth in stature and pricing. “It is an important step for [Pouilly-Fuissés] history, and it will help to show to consumers the quality of the AOC,”  says Edoard Parinet of Domaine du Roc des Boutires, whose family owns vineyards in ‘Aux Chailloux and Aux Bouthières.’ “There is no reason why the Mâconnais should be treated differently from the rest of Burgundy.”

    Pouilly-Fuissé
    Anne Moreau, chairwoman of the Communication Commission at the Bourgogne Wine Board

    Quest for quality

    Burgundians regionwide recognise the benefits, too. “We are delighted that some climats in Pouilly-Fuissé will finally be classified as Premier Cru,” says Anne Moreau, chairwoman of the Communication Commission at the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB).First of all, because it is the recognition of hard work on the part of the winegrowers, but also the recognition of the quality of the terroirs of southern Bourgogne, which has long been underestimated.”

    Patience remains a trademark of Burgundy’s two thousand-year winemaking history. Moreau also highlights “the vitality of our vineyards,” and the region’s ongoing “quest for quality improvement.” Clearly, a quest worth the wait.

    So how well do you know your Pouilly-Fuissé?

    Pouilly-Fuissé

    Pouilly-Fuissé Premiers Crus: 4 municipalities, 22 climats, key producers

    Pouilly-Fuissé

    Municipality of Chaintré:

    Aux Quarts

    LClos de Monsieur Noly

    LClos Reyssier

    LesChevrières

    Notable Chaintré producers:

    Domaine Dominique et Christine Martin

    Dominique Cornin

    Château des Quarts

    Domaine Christophe Perraton

    Pouilly-Fuissé

    Municipality of Fuissé:

    Les Clos

    Les Brulés

    Les Ménétrières

    Les Perrières

    Les Reisses

    Les Vignes Blanches

    Vers Cras

    Notable Fuissé Producers:

    Château de Beauregard

    Domaine Georges Burrier

    Domaine Sophie Cinier

    Ferret Lorton

    Château de Fuissé

    Domaine de Fussiacus

    Manoir Du Capucin

    Gilles Noblet

    Domaine Daniel Pollier

    Domaine Robert-Denogent

    Domaine Thibert Pere Et Fils

    Château Vitallis

    Pouilly-Fuissé

    Communes of Solutré-Pouilly:

    Au Vignerais

    Aux Chailloux

    En Servy

    La Frérie

    Le Clos de Solutré

    Pouilly

    Vers Cras

    Aux Bouthières

    Notable Solutré-Pouilly Producers:

    Domaines Auvigue

    Denis Bouchacourt

    Château Du Clos

    Domaine Cheveau

    Domaine Denuziller

    Domaine Du Chalet-Pouilly

    Domaines Edmond Laneyrie

    Château Pouilly

    Simon Ravaud

    Sylvaine et Alain Normand 

    Pouilly-Fuissé

    Municipality of Vergisson:

    En France

    La Maréchaude

    Les Crays

    Sur La Roche

    Notable Vergisson Producers:

    Domaine Barraud

    Domaine Du Château De Vergisson

    Domaine Guerrin Et Fils

    Roger Lassarat

    Domaine Saumaize-Michelin

    1. Reply

      Along with Pouilly-Fuisse, the best vineyards of Marsannay 1er cru status and merge Brochon into Fixin or Gevery. It is time to get rid of the ridiculous Cote de Nuits Villages appellation (which is always confused with the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, and give a combined appellation to Comblanchien and Corgoloin. Moreover, it time to start to give some recognition to different charateristics and areas of the Hautes-Cotes rather than just lumping them together. I aplaud the new labeling Bourgogne – Cotes d’Or. But if a producer produces Bourgogne from Bourgogne level-vineyards in Meursault, it would be great if they labeled them Bourgogne de Meursault.

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