Domaine Robert-Denogent Pouilly-Fuisse La Croix Vieilles Vignes 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 89-91
When first tasting the wines of Domaine Robert-Denogent, it is essential to put aside any preconceived notions about the young, over-cropped whites of southern Burgundy. These are wines of a much different class, whose reflection of terroir is one more likely found farther north in the prestigious Côte d’Or. Jean-Jacques Robert took over five hectares of his grandfather’s vines in the Mâconnais just outside the village of Fuissé after finishing law school in 1988. Though most of the harvest had always been sold off to the cooperatives, the small parcels that made up the domaine were already understood to enjoy unique microclimates, producing Pouilly-Fuissés of great pedigree. Jean-Jacques soon came under the influence of two ardent defenders of terroir, the great master of Morgon, Marcel Lapierre, and American importer, Kermit Lynch. Little by little, Jean-Jacques has introduced radical changes to the domaine (while staying faithful to his grandfather’s wisdom about the complexity of the land), finally realizing its full potential. He is now joined by his son, Nicolas.
The Roberts’ individual vineyard parcels are planted with old vines (remarkably so!) on varied soils of granite, schist, limestone, clay, and gravel. Naturally reduced yields imbue the grapes with terrific concentration. The wines undergo a long, slow élévage in barrel that lasts anywhere from fifteen to eighteen months. They are bottled after two winters in barrel, a treatment more common (yet still far from the norm) in the Côte d’Or, and something that really sets them apart in the Mâconnais. At a fraction of the price of the appellations of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, to which they are often compared by aficionados and critics alike, the wines of Robert-Denogent offer tremendous value, wonderful richness, and impressive complexity. An added attraction for some—they age sooner than their counterparts to the north.
The source of some of the most sought-after white wines of the Mâconnais, Pouilly-Fuissé is produced exclusively from the Chardonnay grape and tends to be slightly richer in style than wines from its northern neighbor, the Côte de Beaune—mainly due to warmer weather. Wines from Pouilly-Fuissé have some versatility; they can be enjoyed young and can also often improve with a little time in the cellar. Pouilly-Fuissé wines are considered some of the best values for white Burgundy.
Similar to the Côte de Beaune, the soils of Pouilly-Fuissé are mainly limestone and clay. The appellation includes the communes of Fuissé, Solutré (which includes Pouilly), Vergisson and Chaintré. The richest Chardonnay comes from Fuissé and Solutré-Pouilly, whereas the Chardonnay at higher elevation, from Vergisson, expresses more minerality and finesse. Pairing Pouilly-Fuissé with lobster or King Crab will bring great joy not only to your palate—but also your pocketbook!
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.