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Parts of Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Vinzelles set to obtain premier cru status

Four ‘climats’ within the Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Vinzelles appellations in Burgundy’s Mâcon region are set to be designated premier cru starting with the 2024 vintage, industry sources have said.

French national appellation authority (INAO) representative Alexis Sannier told decanter.com that a committee had ‘validated’ in September their ‘admissibility as premier cru climats and commissioned a group of experts to determine their delimitation’. Official recognition for 2024 ‘seems realistic’, he said.

The request for the four climats – Les Mûres in Pouilly-Loché and Les Quarts, Les Longeays, and Les Pétaux in Pouilly-Vinzelles, which account for about one-third of 84 hectares from the two appellations – was filed in 2010, along with 22 Pouilly-Fuissé climats that were designated premier cru in 2020, representing 194 hectares (24% of Pouilly-Fuissé).

Les Mûres, about 9.5 hectares, has limestone soils. The 14 hectares of Les Quarts have limestone and quartz on an east-facing slope, while about eight hectares of Les Longeays have clay rich soils. Three hectares of Les Pétaux have stony soils (hectare figures courtesy of Jean-Philippe Bret).

Two steps remain before the promotion can be official, said Sannier:

– Defining exact delimitation, likely early next year
– Finalising production conditions (yields, harvesting and ageing conditions, etc).

Production specifications will probably match those of the Pouilly-Fuissé premiers crus, according to Jean-Philippe Bret, of Domaine de la Soufrandière in Pouilly-Vinzelles. For example, weed killers will be banned, ‘which is excellent and totally coherent with environmental concerns,’ he said. ‘The INAO made it clear to us that manual harvesting would be required,’ he added.

Recognition is ‘overdue because Burgundians have long known the excellence of these climats,’ said François Labet, President of the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne. ‘Mâcon offers the best deals for Burgundy wines, showing that not all quality Burgundy is expensive,’ he added.

Indeed, ‘painfully high’ Côte d’Or prices, said wine consultant Robin Kick MW, ‘have made it challenging for many deep-rooted Burgundy drinkers to continue buying what they have long loved, and now they have to look further afield’.

For Jasper Morris MW, author of the encyclopaedic Inside Burgundy, buyers should look no further than the ‘so many exciting wines’ from Mâcon: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if Mâcon had as much attention lavished on it by sommeliers and consumers as Chablis does?’

Some soon-to-be premiers crus sampled at a tasting organised ahead of the Hospices de Beaune sale last Sunday reflected wines of crisp brightness and wet stone complexity, easily transcending the image of mass market Mâcon.

Merchants recently report increasing sales. For example, sales statistics from the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) for the first eight months of this year show that Mâcon sales in the UK had risen by over 16% by volume compared to the same period last year.

‘We do notice increasing demand for Mâcon wines, remarked Willem Schiks, Burgundy expert for the massive French wine company Grands Chais de France. ‘Increasing premier cru climats will only help to drive more demand.’

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