The Age of Serious Cru Beaujolais Has Arrived – Tasting Chateau de Poncie Fleurie 2015…

It’s certainly Beaujolais’ moment in the spotlight with more and more Côte d’Or growers buying vineyards in the top Cru villages. As they invest in vineyards and production, the wines are getting more and more serious.

Chateau de Poncie is the latest reincarnation of Villa Ponciago, the estate in Fleurie bought by Champagne Henriot, who coincidently also own brands like Bouchard Pere et Fils. With Joseph Bouchard now actively involved in the Fleurie operations, quality seems to get better and better every vintage that passes.

The la Salomine vineyard is situated on a sloping hillside with a southeast exposure with very well draining soils composed of a pink granitic crystalline rock and quartz as well as a small proportion of clay. Cultivation of the vines is exclusively manual, due to the steep slope. Heavy natural soil erosion is checked by grassing over and mulching. Yields are naturally limited by the terroir to less than 35hl/ha.

After harvest, cold maceration takes place with one part whole bunches and one part with destalked bunches, followed by a fermentation of 10 to 15 days. Maturation is vintage dependant with 40% to 60% of wine aged in oak barrels, 100% of which are mature oak barrels of 1 to 4 years old. The remainder is matured for 12 to 13 months in small tanks to preserve freshness.

Chateau de Poncie Cru Fleurie 2015 La Salomine, 14 Abv.

Another blockbuster year, this is a bold Beaujolais with Pinot Noir depth and complexity. Gamay stepping up to the plate. Deep, dark dense nose of wood smoke, black berry, bramble fruits and dusty granitic mineral graphite lift. Palate is full, broad, expansive, features big bold concentrated flavours of fraises des bois, black cherry, blue berry crumble and opulent sweet supple tannins. Acids melt into the rich black fruit and just tickle your palate, keeping the finish vibrant, fresh and quite mouth watering. Very polished, accomplished wine making raising Beaujolais quality up a few notches (which will appeal to Pinot Noir lovers struggling with Burgundy’s eye watering red wine prices). Buy now, drink now… or cellar for 3 to 8 years for extra complexity.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Precision and Passion to Create Champagne Magic…

Going to large tastings, like the London Wine Trade Fair, I always find certain styles of wines get neglected. For starters, Ports and fortified wines, Madeiras and Sherries, but also Champagnes and quality sparkling wines. 

I find fortified wines tend to fatigue the palate prematurely and bubblies make all subsequent still wines taste disproportionately flat or flabby. So getting the opportunity to sit down for an intimate, focused lunch with one of Champagne’s top winemakers over a 4 course lunch at Nigel Platts-Martin’s fantastic La Trompette Restaurant in Chiswick was very exciting.

We tasted a fantastic selection of Champagne Henriot’s portfolio with Laurent Fresnet, their head winemaker and maitre de chai, and his importer John E Fells, ably attended to by the very talented sommelier Tanguy Martin.

The Henriot Brut Souverain NV, to start with, was a fantastic intro that has really become a massively popular by-the-glass offering in restaurants. 50% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, and 8% Pinot Meunier make for a superbly versatile style. (Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

We also tasted the excellent Blanc de Blancs NV from magnum (95/100), the Rose NV (92+/100), and then the tantalising Brut Rose Vintage 2008, which was lifted, fresh, vibrant and oh so perfumed. A real class act (94/100).

The highly impressive, award winning Brut 2006 (94/100) was the perfect lead into our final pairing… the prestige cuvee Henriot Enchanteleurs 1999 from magnum and the 2000 from bottle. The perfect accompaniment to the cheese and dessert.

The star of the lunch, the Henriot Enchanteleurs 1999 ~ An explosion of truffle, lemon butter, brioche and creamy lemon biscuits. Wow, such complexity and vibrancy. Exceptional! (95+/100)

Scallop amuse bouche

Partridge Tortellini

Rhug estate Chicken

Custard tart, cinnamon ice cream and quince purée.

Incredibly good Michelin star food and superb service matched the greatness of the wines. A real privilege. Thank you Laurent! I look forward to visiting you in Reims soon!