Spotlight on White Burgundy: Domaine Valette Pouilly-Vinzelle 2001

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Pouilly-Vinzelles is the poor cousin of Pouilly-Fuise, the one that doesn’t get much recognition and doesn’t quite have the same talent. However, there are exceptions and the wines of Domaine Valette are a perfect example of what can be done with meticulous and thoughtful growing and winemaking practices.

Grand Cru Maconnais

Pouilly-Vinzelle is located just east of Pouilly-Fuise and shares its limestone and clay soils. Domaine Valette lets the fruit hang for much longer than most of its neighbours, often pushing the boundaries of the AOC rules. Sometimes the wines can include botrityzed grapes. However, these wines are fermented fully dry and have a level of dry extract that is mind-boggling for the Maconnais. The wines are made from organically grown 70+ year old vines in plowed (i.e. non-mechanized) vineyards. The grapes are whole bunch pressed  and see all natural ferments.

The intensity and structure of the palate results not just from the late picked very high quality fruit but also from the extremely long elevage, in many cases up to 36 months. 3 years is a long time to spend in barrel, and the wines show the clear mark of the very slow oxidation that time in barrel adds. Wines from Valette have bested Montrachets in blind tastings before, and I have no hesitation saying their top offerings are near Grand-Cru level quality, but with the richness and orchard fruit intensity of the more southerly Maconnais.

This is the lowest tier Pouilly-Vinzelle bottling; it is is profound and in a wonderful place after 11 years in the bottle. Even so, it could age even longer and continue to develop. It has that much material behind it.

Excellent to Excellent+
~$45 at Terroir in SF

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