June 4, 2010 La Soufrandière
La Soufrandière Pouilly-Vinzelles Climat “Les Quarts”
As this week begins our temperatures are unseasonably low. The tulips (yes, tulips in June) are looking beautifully forlorn, having tightened up in defiance of the chill. Fortunately, there is comfort to be found in a very good wine.
Burgundy is the spirtual home of the well-travelled chardonnay, and many would contend home to the world’s finest white wine. The 2005 vintage in Burgundy was outstanding. Whereas in recent years prices for many wines from Côte d’Or have headed into the stratosphere, there are bargains to be found just outside, in particular the appellations to the south, near the city of Mâcon.
Looking especially good is the Domaine de la Soufrandière, owned by a clever team of young wine-making brothers– Jean-Guillaume and Jean-Philippe Bret. (That’s JGui on the left, and JFi on the right.) In 2000, following stints studying viticulture-oenologie and working in different wine regions of both France and California, the pair took over the family domaine, which had started as a single hectare owned by their grandfather since 1947. They stopped selling to the local cooperative and turned to organic/biodynamic methods to inject new life into the vineyards. The Bret brothers bring a fresh vigour to southern Burgundy, replete with website videos capturing recent harvests, enlivened with pop music and youthful antics at harvest time. The scene all looks very much at home on YouTube.
The soil of La Soufrandière is clay and limestone, with a high concentration of siliceous crystals. The vignerons claim it smells of liquorice. Climat “Les Quarts” draws grapes from what is considered the best of appellation Pouilly-Vinzelles. Their south-east facing vines are 40-70 years old, and over the years the brothers have developed a deep commitment to their two hectares of this terroir. The vineyard is distinguished by a traditional structure, a “clocheton”. In part it serves as a connection to the traditions of the past. Their approach to wine-making is very much influenced by the artisanal methods of that past, with quality the foremost concern.
La Soufrandière Pouilly-Vinzelles Climat “Les Quarts” 2005
The wine is light gold in the glass. The restrained stone fruit and citrus aromas are, not surprisingly, laced with mineral. They remain clean and fresh and enduring. Dry on the palate, the wine bears a sophisticated zing. I very much like its poise and confidence, the crisp harmony that prevails. This wine is not a garden of aromas; nor is it butter and cream in the mouth. It is rather a pure, purposeful and accomplished wine. A serious effort, but fun-loving at the same time. A fine wine to enliven any occasion. $$
And one that seeks a suitor in food. At this meal it’s white, flaky fish, plain in its preparation, basic and rich in its flavours. Fresh halibut, oven baked in parchment paper, its delectable juices running into the asparagus and slow roasted tomatoes.
And as the week moves along, the sun and higher temperatures begin to show themselves. There will be a summer. The tulips unbend and willingly open up to the world.
Patience and La Soufrondière bring great reward.