A recent tasting of white burgundies from the Maconnais highlighted just why the name Pouilly Fuissé has become so famous. Despite attempts by growers to search out lesser known villages and plots in southern Burgundy, the quality and intensity of Pouilly Fuissé shines through.
With five million bottles produced from this 700 hectare appellation, it is one of Burgundy’s largest appellations. There is a lot of poor thin Pouilly Fuissé trading on the name. If you pay under £10 for a supermarket Pouilly Fuissé you get a crisp, unoaked chardonnay, but it’s a pale imitation of what it can really taste like. To get an idea of the intensity of this appellation you need to spend over £14, which sounds pricey but is good value compared to the prices of white burgundies from Meursault and Puligny Montrachet.
There is not just one village here, but two, Pouilly and Fuissé – and the appellation doesn’t just cover these two – it applies to four communes: Chaintre, Fuissé, Solutre-Pouilly and Vergisson.
French wine bottles are notoriously light on their back label descriptions, so you need to do a little homework about vineyards before you buy.
Some climats (sites) to look for here include Vignes Blanches in Fuissé for exotic rich styles, La Roche on the hill above Vergisson makes intense perfumed wines; En Carementraut within Vergisson gives powerful smoky Pouilly Fuissé; Clos Reissier in Chaintre offers a more minerally take.
For best value and quality my favourite is Christophe Cordier, just outside Fuissé, a father and son enterpirse that focuses on very low yields, intensely pruned vines, late picking, and lots of lees stirring – with superb results. Other growers to look for here are Olivier Merlin (Berry Bros & Rudd), Nicolas Potel (Waitrose), Bret Bros, Daniel Barraud (Lea & Sandeman), Saumaize-Michelin (Raeburn Wines) and Joseph Burrier’s Chateau Beauregard (The Wine Society). A taste of their Pouilly Fuissé will show you what Maconnais’ best appellation is capable of.
POUILLY FUISSÉ 2011
Any Pouilly Fuissé under £10 is pretty bland – so don’t expect too much here – but this one from Lidl is quite quaffable, a bright and fresh chardonnay with a moderate length.
POUILLY FUISSÉ VIGNES BLANCHES 2011 Cordier Pere & Fils
(£18.99/£19.99, Majestic Wine)
For those who like their chardonnays rich, honeyed, spicy, nutty and intense, Cordier’s Pouilly Fuissés are a revelation. You’ll get beautifully poised citrus fruits, a honeyed creamy, leesy palate and rich long length. Superb.
POUILLY FUISSÉ LES RONCHEVATS 2010 Domaine Saumaize-Michelin
(£20.99, Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)
More subtle and restrained, but very elegant, beautifully made, minerally with honeyed notes. Lovely finish.
POUILLY FUISSÉ EN BULAND 2010 Daniel Barraud
From a fine Pouilly Fuissé producer – very racy, balanced oak and long intense finish.