Jasper Morris MW, insideburgundy.com (December 2020)
About this WINE
Grandfather Bret bought this property in Vinzelles in 1947. In 2000 Jean-Philippe and Jean-Guillaume Bret took their vineyards out of the local co-operative and established their Domaine de la Soufrandière (see here for the wine selection from la Soufrandière) with 4 hectares of vines entirely in the appellation of Pouilly Vinzelles. They have also developed a negociant activity using the name Bret Brothers.
Previous experience between them includes stages at Ridge and Newton in California and Comte Lafon in Burgundy. Most of their vines are in a perfectly situated east facing slope of Vinzelles called Les Quarts, on Bajocian limestone with a high silica/quartz content.
The vineyards have been farmed organically since 2000, with biodynamic principles being progressively introduced. The grapes, both their own and those purchased, are picked in small containers, then whole bunch pressed in the tinailler (local Maconnais and Beaujolais word for cuverie) before descending by gravity to the barrel cellar. They are currently all taken out of barrel for bottling after 11 months.
Pouilly-Vinzelles is a small appellation in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy, situated next to the famous Pouilly-Fuissé appellation, and the Pouilly-Loché area, which is often regarded as a sub-region of Pouilly-Vinzelles itself.
As with Pouilly-Loché, Pouilly-Vinzelles shares the name with the famous town of Pouilly, and as such the two appellations benefit from the association with the established name of Pouilly-Fuissé. Pouilly-Vinzelles concerns itself entirely with the production of white wine from Chardonnay, resulting in a very typical but high-quality Burgundian white, with notes of fruit and slight minerality, much like the whites of its immediate neighbours.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.