The new name of the Henriot family's Beaujolais domaine Chateau Poncié will be Villa Ponciago – to reflect its Roman roots.
[NB In the original version of this article we said that Chateau Poncié had been purchased by Bouchard Pere et Fils. This was incorrect: in fact the property was bought by the Henriot family, owners of Bouchard and William Fevre in Chablis]
Chateau Poncié is a 120ha property in Fleurie of which 55ha is planted to the Beaujolais grape Gamay. Poncié itself is a lieu-dit (demarcation) within Fleurie.
Henriot – owner of Bouchard Pere et Fils in Beaune and William Fevre in Chablis – took over the estate in early 2008 and intends ‘to do the same with Poncié as we did with William Fevre,’ managing director Thomas Henriot, son of Joseph Henriot, told decanter.com, referring to the property they bought in the 1990s and transformed into a premium producer.
Henriot has absolute faith in Poncié, which he says ‘definitely’ contains terroir of premier cru quality.
He cites the fact that before the 1950s, top Beaujolais fetched the same prices as premier grand cru classe and cru classe Burgundy.
Henriot has begun a 2-3 year research project – alongside a wider Beaujolais classification project – to identify that top terroir, examining soils, topography and microclimates, with a view to requesting premier cru status from appellations body the INAO.
‘The terroir here is specific,’ Henriot says. ‘We’ve tasted a 1929 Chateau Poncié and it’s still a fantastic wine. There’s no reason why we can’t do the same thing today.’
The harvest at Poncie, interview with managing director Thomas Henriot
At the same time, Henriot recognises the mixed blessing that was Beaujolais Nouveau, which made the region world-famous, but compromised quality.
To which end, he said, they will stress the Fleurie and Poncié names more than Beaujolais, on the basis that ‘the problem is the reputation of Beaujolais, not the crus.’
The Villa Ponciago name, which Henriot claims dates back to Roman times, is ‘an umbrella name’ which will cover appellations like Brouilly, Moulin-a-Vent and Morgon, if in the future Bouchard decides to expand its holdings.
Henriot said the most important thing was to distiguish the domaine from the rest of Beaujolais. ‘There are a lot of chateaux out there – but only one Villa Ponciago’.
Two wines will be released initially, an appellation Fleurie and a ‘top cuvee, which may keep the Chateau Poncié name’, in May or June of 2010.
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Written by Adam Lechmere