Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Domaine Ferret in Fuissé, Poully-Fuissé, Mâconnais: Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Cyril Laumain, Chef de Cave – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France
Situated in the heart of Fuissé, Domaine Ferret has long been a producer of top Pouilly-Fuissé cuvées. The estate was managed by the Ferret family from its founding in 1840 until it was purchased by Louis Jadot in 2008.
We took a quick vineyard tour, followed by a visit of the old estate and the newly constructed modern winery, were we had a tasting. Cyril Laumain, Chef de Cave, was our host.
In the Most Prestigious AOC in the Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuissé, France
Domaine Ferret has played a key role in defining the quality of the region. It was the first Domaine in Pouilly-Fuissé to begin bottling on the estate, shortly after the Second World War. Further, its long-standing focus on vinifying each parcel of vines separately has allowed for the identification of the top terroirs.
The Domaine Ferret portfolio falls into three tiers: Classic, Têtes de Cru and Cuvée Hors-Classe. The Tête de Cru and Hors-Classe parcels that have been identified are a precursor to the stratification of the appellation system (which is currently under consideration by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine). As in the Côte d’Or, the wines in each range reflect their particular terroir, and these top cuvées are produced only in great vintages.
Under the formidable leadership of Jeanne Ferret, who ran the house with a rod of iron for half a century, Domaine Ferret became a major force in the region. She was well into her eighties and still very much in charge when her daughter, Colette, joined her in 1992. Jeanne Ferret died in 1993. Colette Ferret died in 2007, leaving no heirs, and so after 150 years in the Ferret family, the Domaine was put up for sale. When Louis Jadot bought Domaine Ferret in 2008, Audrey Braccini was appointed Winemaker and General Manager of Domaine Ferret.
Audrey Braccini was born in 1979 in the Lorraine region of northeast France, where she grew up admiring her father’s dedication to cultivating his wine cellar. Inspired by his passion, Audrey Braccini moved to the heart of the renowned wine region of Languedoc-Roussillon, and enrolled in Montpellier University’s prestigious enology program. After successfully earning a master’s degree in vineyards and wine, she launched her career in Beaujolais the Fleurie Co-operative. In 2008, Braccini’s talents earned her the position of Managing Director and Winemaker for the historic Domaine Ferret estate in the nearby Mâconnais region. Drawing on her years of experience and expertise, she dove headfirst into the regional Chardonnay and Pouilly-Fuissé appellations.
Audrey has made many small changes, for example trying to avoid using commercial yeasts, whereas before 2008 Ferret used only commercial yeast, chosen for reliability. And Louis Jadot has made an extensive investment too: we took a five minute stroll from the original winery to a slick, efficient and modern new winery tucked behind a village wall. It opened just in time for the 2012 harvest and gives Audrey a huge amount of extra space to work with, and complete control with three bladder presses so grapes never have to wait to be pressed, and an all gravity-flow winery built on site that slopes four-metres from front to back of the winery.
Since 1840 Domaine Ferret has had an uninterrupted tradition of women as directors/winemakers, a tradition that has been continued by Audrey Braccini since 2008.
The Pouilly-Fuissé vineyards lie on a narrow band of land in southern Burgundy. Since the creation of the appellation in 1936, only wines from the villages of Chaintré, Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly and Vergisson are authorized to bear the Pouilly-Fuissé name. Domaine Ferret’s estate vineyards are comprised of 18 hectares throughout the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation; 14 of these are located in the amphitheater of hills surrounding the town of Fuissé and 4 are near the Roche de Vergisson, in the north of the appellation.
The spectrum of rocks present in Fuissé is the most diverse within the Maconnais, and the Ferret vineyards, which are spread across the appellation's entire range of soil types, is one of its best ambassadors. The soils can be poor, made up of hard limestone and even calcite, but they can also be richer clays, based on alluvial marl deposits, schist's and even volcanic-sedimentary pebbles. More than 330 million years separate the most ancient of these rocks from the most recent deposits. These foundation rocks, located on the eastern fringe of the Beauregard plateau, are made up of limestone deposited by ancient lakes.
Domaine Ferret practices sustainable viticulture. This basic level of green viticulture shows an awareness of the need to preserve the environment, promote biodiversity and maintain soil health by minimizing the use of chemical treatments, among other approaches.
Domaine Ferret is owned by Maison Louis Jadot. Maison Louis Jadot was founded by Louis Henry Denis Jadot in 1859 and is a family wine company that produces and markets Burgundy wine. It operates both its own vineyards and also buys grapes from many growers. It controls 270 hectares of vineyards in Burgundy (including Beaujolais Crus) and produces only AOC wines.
In 1985 Maison Louis Jadot - excluding the vineyards, which remained the property of the Jadot and Gagey families - was sold to the family of Rudy Kopf, who also own Kobrand, Jadot’s US importer.
In 1997, Maison Louis Jadot ventured outside of the Beaune region for the first time, purchasing the substantial holdings of Chateau des Jacques in the Beaujolais, one of the most important estates of the Moulin-à-Vent appelation.
Today, Maison Louis Jadot controls 225 hectares of vineyards in Burgundy, of which 119 hectares lie in the Côte d'Or: Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot, Domaine Louis Jadot, Domaine Gagey and Domaine du Duc de Magenta.
The Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot has long belonged to the Jadot family. Domaine Louis Jadot grew in 1985 with the purchase of Domaine Clair Daü. Domaine Gagey has belonged to André Gagey's family for generations. The Domaine du Duc de Magenta belongs to an established Burgundian family that has given Maison Louis Jadot the right to vinify and sell the wines from its vineyards of Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle and Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Clos de la Garenne. Maison Louis Jadot is settled in Beaujolais since 1996: the Château des Jacques property includes 80 hectares of Moulin à Vent, Morgon, Fleurie and Chénas. In 2008, Maison Louis Jadot bought Domaine Ferret, which is located in the heart of the Pouilly Fuissé appellation.
Kobrand and the Kopf Family
Kobrand is owned by the 3 daughters of the firm's founder, Rudolph C. Kopf. Kopf was born in the Queens in New York City and graduated from the University of Columbia's Business School in 1927. All his youth, he lived under prohibition. Prohibition was repealed by President Franklin Roosevelt, when he took office in 1933. It was in that year that Kopf started a wine and spirits department at New York's famed Macy's department store. Under his guidance, it became known as one of the best shops in the country and Kopf established himself as an industry force.
In 1944, at the age of 38, he struck out on his own and formed his own wine and spirits marketing company, which he called the Kobrand Corporation. Although light on money, Kopf was well connected, having established relationships in the wine and spirits business around the world.
Kopf's big break came in 1945 when he lined up his first major wine brand to represent, Maison Louis Jadot, which was established in France in 1859. With the Jadot business in hand, Kopf's next notable achievement was landing a spirits brand: Beefeater Gin. A third key brand acquisition in another important category, champagne, took place shortly after the Beefeater deal, when Kopf secured the marketing rights to Taittinger Champagne.
In 1985, Kobrand bought Maison Louis Jadot. Only a few months after the Jadot deal was completed, Kopf died at age 80 and his three daughters shared in the ownership of Kobrand. Also in 1985 Kobrand acquired its first stake in a California company, Napa Valley's Sequoia Grove Vineyards. A year later, Kobrand turned its attention to Northern California, forming a joint venture with Taittinger called Domaine Carneros. Kobrand added further to its California interests in 1987 when it reached a marketing agreement with Cakebread Cellars.
The year 1987 also marked the end of the relationship with Beefeater Gin. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Kobrand added a host of brands, making the firm a major marketer of Italian wines. These labels included Sassicala, Ornellaia, Terriccio, Spalletti, and Chiehe Chiarlo.
Kobrand continues to be a family company, owned by the founders three daughters.
At the end of the tour of the new winery, we were offered a tasting in the winery. We tasted the following wines.
2013 Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé
The Pouilly-Fuissé is a blend of the best vineyard parcels with 10- to 35-year-old vines from the Fuissé amphitheater of limestone and clay soils. Each parcel is vinified separately to ensure the finest expression of the fruit. Half the wine is fermented in enameled tanks and half in used oak barrels.
Subtle notes include minerals, yellow fruits, flowers, fresh hazelnuts and spices, with an intense finish. The perfect equilibrium of this wine allows it to retain its vibrancy with age.
2013 Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé Tête de Cru Le Clos
Situated between the winery building and Fuissé’s old church, the Le Clos parcel is 1.65 acres, and one of few parcels to enjoy an exposure to the east. Half of its vines are 20 years old, while the other half are at least 40 years of age. They grow on a thin topsoil covering limestone and shale. The wine is fermented in oak barrels and sees significant barrel maturation, a part of it on the lees.
This is a powerful wine that offers refined flavors of fresh almond, apricot, yellow fruit and minerals. Overall it is vivacious and balanced, with an exceptional, intense finish.
2013 Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé Tête de Cru Les Perrières
Les Perrières is situated on a sloping southeast exposure just above the Le Clos parcel, and has limestone and young clay soils. The vines are an average of 35 years old. The wine is fermented in oak barrels before further barrel maturation, a part of it on the lees.
Opens with floral and spice notes on the nose and palate. A generous, creamy mouthfeel complements a nice ripeness and intense richness. The wine is ample, smooth and well balanced, with a vivid, spicy finish. With age, it will gain in richness and fully reveal itself.
2013 Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé Hors-Classe Les Ménétrières
Les Ménétrières is a southeast-facing vineyard less than one hectare in size that borders the village of Fuissé. One third of the vines are 40 years old; one third are 20, and a third are 10. The upper half of the vineyard is planted on shale, while the lower half is planted on pearly slabs. The soil is composed of alluvial deposits, a mix of deep silt and clay with few stones. The subsoil features streaks of limestone and limestone marls, while top layers are rich in stone-free limestone deposits and light marls. Fermentation takes place in oak barrels, of which 20% are new, and is followed by a period of six months’ aging on fine lees.
Superbly rich and generous, the wine has aromas of subtle cream blended with rich Chardonnay fruit, with honey notes. On the palate, ripe fruit, toast and quince paste punctuate a full-bodied, generous rich wine that is powerful, intense and vivid, with a long, haunting finish. The wine will benefit from further maturing in bottle.
2013 Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé Hors-Classe Tournant de Pouilly
Situated in the northern Fuissé region, bordering on the hamlet of Pouilly, the Tournant de Pouilly vineyard of just under one hectare lies on an east-facing slope. Old vines of an average 50 years old are planted along a narrow band of pearly slabs of fossilized oyster shells that twist their way between Fuissé and Pouilly, which give this wine a linear, mineral character. There is deep, limestone-rich silt and clay containing a few stones, as well. Fermentation takes place in oak barrels, of which 20% are new, and is followed by a period of six months’ aging on fine.
Aromas of grilled almonds and lime-leaf tea with notes of wax preced rich, luxurious flavors on the palate, balanced by precise minerality. The finish is particularly long and intense, and this wine can age for 10-15 years.
Thank you very much Cyril Laumain for an exceptional visit and tasting.
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In the Most Prestigious AOC in the Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuissé, France