Tasted in Fleurie with Joseph Bouchard, 22 April 2016.
Château Poncié / Villa Ponciago
Tel: +33 4 74 69 83 33
Here is a little piece of heaven in Fleurie; a beautiful old château (though empty and I assume not renovated) with sheep grazing in the grounds, and 45 hectares of vines that include a wonderful avenue of trees separating parcels of vines – a small reminder of of the Route Nationale south of Beaune. Actually they own more than 100 hecatres of land, but only 45 hectares are planted with vines.
This property was owned by another branch of the Bouchard family since 1880, until bought by Joseph Henriot in 2008 – so the first vintage under new ownership was 2009. “The domaine wasn’t in the greatest condition when purchased.”
I had an obvious first question for Joseph Bouchard (nephew of Christophe Bouchard); Why the Italian name – it sounds like Chianti? “Actually, it’s not strictly Italian, but rather Latin, and it reflects the history of a domaine that was given this name by the monks of Cluny. The owner of the Château de Poncié donated his vineyards to the Abbey of Cluny in 949 with the hope of saving his soul. The logo on the bottles dates from the monks and was found in the Château.”
The domaine’s old vines are mainly goblet-trained, ‘so lots of herbicides in our history.‘ But there is a lot of new planting with 2-metre-gaps, cordon-trained to work the soil, and these are all done in bio with palisage (high training) up to 1.7 m. Some repicage, some goblet, “It really depends on the parcel. It’s now easy to see our parcels – they stand out because they are green!”
The domaine’s 45 hectares of vines surround the château; there are multiple soil profiles, though mainly it is the aspects that change (altitude and orientations). “Our approach is by parcel, not by vine age,” says Joseph, “We make 3 cuvées; a reserve that combines multiple parcels. The next called Hautes du Py, from vines up to 400 metres high – but plain south-facing. The last is Roche Mourier with 80-year-old goblet-trained vines close to the border with Moulin à Vent – unfortunately producing less than 20 hl/ha – here the soil is granitic but with a hint of clay – a little more MA than Fleurie in style. These vines are north-east facing, but always enjoying the first sun of the day – it works well.
“We have 40-70 cm of soils – usually more at the bottom, always sandy, always poor, so we make own compost with grape skins and some cow mist – the compost is really helpful. “The plain-south-facing parcels ripen 10 days ahead of the Coline de Py, and the sandy steep soil doesn’t work for tractors or horses, as there’s no traction. We’re trailling fixed ploughs in thes places, as used in Switzerland and Germany.
“The work in the cuverie is much much easier now and our harvesting is same as in Beaune or Chablis, with small cases, all triaged and then there’s a destemmer for the majority, but not all the fruit. we use lots of cement tanks – but stainless-steel too. Before was 10-12 days with pigeage by foot. Today we assemble press juice and the free-run juice to have the whole parcel. Each area done seperately.”
The domaine yields approximately 30-35 hl/ha, bringing in about 150k bottles per year and producing three cuvées, priced at roughly €8, €11 and €18. The wines are mainly exported from France to the USA, and many other countries.
All these bottlings are sealed with DIAM5. I found the wines excellent, but confirmed by m blind tasting one week later, there are a few issues with reduction on some cuvées.
Elevage in tank for 8-12 months
The nose starts with a little reduction. Deep, dark, red fruit – partly due to the reduction. Supple, very fine texture, here is waves of really excellent flavour. A really generous and tasty wine. Very yum indeed! A pretty burst of fresh red fruit in the finish. Excellent.
2014 Fleurie Les Hautes du Py
Here a little barrel elevage but nothing new – 3-4 year-old barrels. Only about 25hl/ha.
Fresh, no reduction, a little pyrazine and a lot of inviting energy and some spice. A wide, more mineral and fresh stance – faintly saline and complex. A modest burst of pretty flavour to finish. Actually not easy to follow the velour of the reserve – this does it with modesty but impressive complexity…
2014 Fleurie La Roche Muriers
All in barrel and with some new barrels for 8-12 months but then also spends some time in tank before bottling. This bottled in November. It wasn’t made in 2012 – mainly due to hail. Currently they are commercialising the 2013 of this.
A deeper nose, a much fainter accent of pyrazine that slowly melds with fresh red cherry fruit. Super texture – supple with fine energy – here you may find a little vanilla in the mid-palate but salinity and minerality too. Here is the flavour richness of the first wine with the complexity and minerality of the second. Excellent
Fine colour. Deep, red-black fruit – a croquant freshness to the fruit. Big in the mouth, ripe but very fresh fruit – layers of flavour this is tasting really great right now – a richness of flavour and width and length of that flavour. Also a super finish – bravo!
Deep, layered dark fruit with a fine freshness – yet less overt than the reserve. A fresher, more vivant and tastier palate than the 14 can offer today. There’s sweetness but a fine lithe, sleek, direct personality. Excellent texture of fine tannin and then a gorgeous mid-palate flavour. Also super and just so persistent. Bravo!
A bright, sweet cherry nose – less fine clarity of focus vs the last wine but more open and generous but slowly it comes into focus, more red – almmost redcurant – excellent. Big in the mouth – really mouth-filling, round wine. Salinity, with a hint of vanilla, very fine texture again. Layers of flavour with excellent freshness – wait two years for that oak to fade, but again brilliant. Super wine! Despite that the length has a hint more vanilla…