For years the Mâcon existed in the shadows of the more famous Côte d’Or to the north. Although still classed as part of Burgundy, the wines were simple, and offered value; being slighter more southerly, the white wines, from Chardonnay show a softness and an extra degree of ripeness here as one edges towards the Mediterranean. The best wines of the region cut that ripeness with citrusy acidity and minerality, allying full-body and depth with fine-boned structure. The enclave of Pouilly-Fuissé, in the south of the Mâconnais, is an outcrop of undulating limestone, providing Chardonnay a high-quality foothold. Here, the grapes offer up particularly succulent wines, of real substance and structure. Pouilly-Fuissé achieved an international following, and was very fashionable in the United States during the 1980s. There was a great deal of thin, non-descript Pouilly-Fuissé riding on the coat-tails of its well-known name, but in the 1990s a number of new producers set up, refocusing the region firmly on quality. For many years, the leader of this region has been, appropriately, the Château de Fuissé.
The estate was purchased in 1862 by the current family. Some 5 generations later, the current winemaker is Antoine Vincent, son of the famous Jean-Jacques Vincent. His sister, Bénédicte manages the administration with her husband Philip Tuinder, who worked for 10 years at Domaine Leflaive. The estate has more than 30 hectares, concentrated mainly in Pouilly-Fuissé , but with holdings also in Saint-Véran, and the Mâcon-Villages and Mâcon-Fuissé appellations. It is an ancient estate, with the château’s tower featured on the labels dating from the 15th Century. The wines include La Tête de Cru, a blend from 20 vineyards, with an average age of 30 years, a Vieilles Vignes blend from vines aged from 40 to 60 years old and three single vineyard bottlings, Les Combettes, Les Brûlés and Le Clos. All three are monopoles, that is to say they are vineyards wholly owned by the domaine. Les Combettes produces pure, mineral wines of delicacy. Les Brûlés, close to the village of Fuissé, with a mainly clay soil mixed with limestone, produces a wine of muscular power. Le Clos is a monopole, enclosed by a stone wall, and lies right next to the château, with a more equal balance of limestone and clay, giving structured, rich, deeply flavoured wine. These are wines, the intensity of which I have always been impressed by, and I urge you to try them. Indeed, the 2005 Le Clos was selected for inclusion in the ‘1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die’ edited by Neil Beckett of The World of Fine Wine. They are robust enough to benefit from decanting, and enjoy them with rich seafood or white meat dishes.