Tasted in Vinzelles with Françoise de Lostende, 18 June 2020.
With just 53 hectares in production, Pouilly-Vinzelles is one of the smallest communal appellations in France, only its neighbour Pouilly-Loché with 32 hectares is smaller. The name Vinzelles is, apparently, derived from the word ‘vines.’
At one time the wines from the château were labelled as Pouilly-Fuissé or even ‘Cru Classé Pouilly or Vinzelles’ – but that was prior the birth of the Vinzelles appellation in 1940. February 2020 saw a dossier for these two appellations (Vinzelles and Loché) moving to a consulting phase before the next step of involving the INAO – like the project for Pouilly-Fuissé, looking to promote certain climats to premier cru.
Françoise de Lostende (above right) is not just the president of the growers syndicate of Pouilly-Vinzelles and Pouilly-Loché, she is also the proprietor of Chateau Vinzelles, and with 16.5 hectares of vines currently in production (and more available to plant) she is also the largest producer in the Vinzelles appellation. The domaine’s vines are planted all around the château – easy for the manual harvesting, though they lost 50% to frost in 2019 – having all your vines in one location is not always a positive thing! Since then they have invested in a windmill and it covers 4 hectares of vines – ‘it needs a little fuel but it’s very clean compared to straw or candles,’ explains Françoise, who has been here since 1996 though took responsibility for the vinifications from 2012. Françoise tells that the château was always a proprietor of vines here – at least as far back as they have records. It was originally a fortified château in the 11th century, though all that you see today seems to have been from 13th & 17th century updates.
Since 2011 there has been a strong link with Maison Drouhin who source from Françoise – initially from just one parcel, raised one-third in 500l barrels – their volume has been growing, though their wine doesn’t use the word ‘château‘ on the label. In the main, Château Vinzelles’ sales are destined for France.
The domaine is working organically and are undergoing certification – they have already worked on this for the last 4 years but have now moved into their second official year of conversion – so the wine of 2021 would be labelled AB. They are also part of Vignerons Independants and Françoise is also part of the group Femmes & Vins de Bourgogne.
The wines of Château Vinzelles, either from here or from Joseph Drouhin (who drop the château reference) are excellent to great wines for their price-points. In this 2016 vintage, I have the impression that I like the château bottled wine a little more, but it’s a road that’s worth exploring more often. The 2017s will only be bottled here at the end of June 2020 – so you need a good memory – I already tasted the 2018s chez Drouhin!
The ‘range‘ of Françoise consists of a wine that is an assembly of multiple parcels plus 2 single-parcel wines. The 2017s will only be bottled in a couple of weeks, it’s a long elevage here! The first wine sees only tank elevage, but some oak is used for the single parcels – “As the wine supports the oak, but I think from a terroir perspective that tanks are better. We had some large foudres until 1996, they worked well too as you didn’t note any oak flavour.”
A little colour. The nose wide and forward, peppery high-toned. Silky, concentrated wine that’s cool flavoured, mouth-watering and mineral. Lovely, in a contemplative style rather than a wine of energy – but no questing the excellent balance. Lovely wine.
2016 Pouilly-Vinzelles Cuvée Faubin
East-facing vines under front face of the château. Average 45-year-old vines.
A more vibrant, a mineral depth of aroma that’s partly floral. More impact, concentrated, layered, very silky wine. The leading edge is nicely acid forward, but the wine behind is luxurious and still balanced. A lovely finish – shimmering with flavour. Simply excellent!
2016 Pouilly-Vinzelles Cuvée Pétaux
There are some 100-year-old vines in here amongst the replantings – “I keep meaning to make some massale selections from here” says Françoise.
More golden citrus fruit aroma – nicely vibrant here. Wide but a little more direct and mineral – it’s vibrantly mineral finishing too. That’s a super wine, just a touch better balanced as there’s less fat versus the last. The finest finishing too, and certainly a different character to the previous wines – ‘and the difference is like this ever year,’ says Françoise. Simply excellent again.