By Evan Williams
What it is: Brilliant Chardonnay from Pouilly-Fuissé, located in the southern reaches of Burgundy (Macon), that remains laughably affordable compared to many of its counterparts.
Why you need it: We all need to be drinking more white Burgundy - that much is undebatable. Paying for it is another matter. Of course, that's where this lovely ~$20 Pouilly-Fuissé comes in. From a spectacular vintage, and a producer that we've been cheerleaders of for a solid decade. What's not to love?
This stuff is what I like to call "Chard Candy". No, not because it's sticky-sweet (it's definitely not), but because it's just fun and delicious and you want to have more than you probably should. Also because I would love to get this in my halloween bucket.
It comes at you from Domaine Thibert Miranda, which many of you know from years of me hocking their Macon-Fuissé to you. They are a models of consistency, and that Macon-Fuissé has been a staple of ours for longer than I can remember. But sometimes, it's worth spending an extra few bucks to get something that kicks it up a lot of notches.
The differences, primarily, between Macon-Fuissé and Pouilly-Fuissé is that in the case of the latter, the area is smaller, the sites are more prestigious, and the yields are lower (by law). You also tend to see a little more usage of oak aging in Pouilly-Fuissé. I'd compare Macon-Fuissé to Bourgogne Blanc from the Cote d'Or, whereas Pouilly-Fuissé leans more toward Chassagne-Montrachet or Saint-Aubin.
The primary appeal of this wine all about richness, substance, fruit, complexity, and, yes, some more oak - not quite on the scale of your prototypical California butterbomb, but definitely more towards the classic Beaune cru whites. This is why it's the perfect Chard for Sonoma and Chassagne lovers alike, but with a much friendlier price tag than many of their examples of this calibre.
There's certainly plenty of structure, acidity, and energy to keep it lively for food, but it's not bracing or overtly steely. She's an especially classic beauty on the nose, with rich fruits (largely because of this great vintage) such as lychee, pear, and preserved lemon swirling around toasted nuts, classic minerality, and feminine perfume.
On the palate, it's broad and soft, with only just enough acid to stand up to food or simply refresh your palate on a warmer spring day - never enough to fatigue you or make you pucker. The fruit and rocks are complex and wispy, making this a wine you can either sling back on the patio, or sip contemplatively by yourself in the corner (hey, don't judge me!)
As I said, Thibert-Miranda (formerly just Domaine Thibert) is a model of consistency, but that doesn't mean that they don't or can't take advantage of better vintages. To wit: I had a sample of the excellent 2016 in my fridge, and when I went to send out an offer, it had already disappeared. So, I waited for the 2017, and here we are: it's even better than the 2016 right now. The 2016 vintage was a tough one in the Maconnaise, with frost and hale hampering quality and yields. Thibert, as usual, still produced excellent wine that year, but I just missed the boat on it.
2017, however, was a supple, revitalizing vintage - Burgundy as a whole saw its biggest yields since 2009, and it's becoming more and more apparent that the quality is there as well. This Pouilly-Fuissé is like a more refined, polished version of the 2016 - more complexity, less flab, and simply a more terroir-driven set of parts. There's still this wonderful candied pear/apple note that drives it, with plenty of good acidity and minerality.
All of which is to say, if you're a fan of Beaune whites like Chassagne-Montrachet, or of moderately-oaked California Chards, you really owe it to yourself to see what $21 can get you in the Macon in 2017. I'm pretty sure you'll be as smitten as we are.
Hey, it might even become your new spring/fall house Chard. Just speaking from personal experience here. Giddyup!