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The battle to get Pouilly-Fuissé the Premier Cru recognition it deserves

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.

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.

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.”

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 Premiers Crus: 4 municipalities, 22 climats, key producers

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

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

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 

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

6/10/20
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The battle to get Pouilly-Fuissé the Premier Cru recognition it deserves