Etienne Sauzet, Puligny-Montrachet 2018

Etienne Sauzet

2018
Puligny-Montrachet

Domaine Etienne Sauzet, located in the village of Puligny-Montrachet, is arguably one of Puligny's finest domaines. The original Etienne Sauzet (1903-75) put together a wine domaine of around 12 hectares and established the Sauzet name as one of the top two or three addresses in the village. Gérard Boudot, now jo ned by daughter Emilie, and son-in-law Benoît Riffault. The vineyards have been farmed organically since 2006 and after two years of experimentation all switched to biodynamic cultivation from 2010. The grapes are sorted to remove grey rot where necessary, then pressed without crushing and fermented in oak until racking into tank before the next harvest, for a further six months élévage on the fine lees. The generic and village wines are elegant and stylish. They are some of the most sought-after wines from Puligny and are models of intensity and balance. The grapes for this wine comes from seven parcels of vines around the village of Puligny, totalling approximately four hectares.. All vineyard work, such as debudding to control yield and open up the canopy, is done by hand, as is harvesting. The vines are Guyot trained and the average age of the vines are 40-years-old. The 2018 vintage saw a rainy spring followed by a warm and very dry summer. Perfect conditions during the harvest meant the grapes were healthy with a good level of acidity when they were picked. Different vineyard parcels were vinified separately then blended. The grapes were whole bunch pressed in a pnuematic press for two hours giving gentle pressure to keep the aromatics and delicate fruit instead of extracting phenolics. Fermentation took place in older barrels under constant supervision. The wine was aged for 12-15 months,15% in new oak with the remaining in two to three year old oak. The wine was aged for a further three months in stainless steel tanks after racking off the fine lees. The vineyards have been farmed organically since 2006 and after two years of experimentation all switched to biodynamic cultivation from 2010. The grapes are sorted to remove grey rot where necessary, then pressed without crushing and fermented in oak until racking into tank before the next harvest, for a further six months élévage on the fine lees. "This is an incredibly pure and precise Puligny-Montrachet with elegant aromas of sweet pastries and stone fruits on the nose. Richly textured with concentrated fruit flavours, the palate is extremely well-balanced with fresh, lifted acidity." Petersham Cellar Tasting Notes (16.09.2020) "Aromas of waxy citrus rind, white flowers and almond paste, a medium to full-bodied, satiny-textured and supple wine that's lively and charming. A blend of seven different lieux-dits, this will drink well young. " Robert Parker 90 points "It offers attractive dewy green apples, freshly sliced pear and hints of mirabelle on the nose, which needs a few swirls of the glass to awaken. The palate is well balanced with orange zest and citrus lemon and hints of lime, all matched with a fine bead of acidity, the 15% new oak neatly folded into the finish. Recommended." Neal Martin, 91 points, Vinous

Region
Variety
Chardonnay
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£67

France

France – the home of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire and Champagne – is arguably the world's most important wine-producing country. For centuries, it has produced wine in greater quantity – and of reportedly greater quality – than any other nation. Wine is ingrained in French culture at almost every level of society; it is the drink of both the elite and the common people, and a key symbol in Roman Catholicism, France's majority religion.

The diversity of French wine is due, in part, to the country's wide range of climates. Champagne, its most northerly region, has one of the coolest climates anywhere in the wine-growing world – in stark contrast to the warm, dry Rhone Valley 350 miles (560km) away in the southeast. Bordeaux, in the southwest, has a maritime climate heavily influenced by the Atlantic ocean to its west and the various rivers that wind their way between its vineyards. Far from any oceanic influence, eastern regions such as Burgundy and Alsace have a continental climate, with warm, dry summers and cold winters. In France's deep south, Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon enjoy a definitively Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot summers and relatively mild winters.

France's appellation system was created in the early 20th century and has since been imitated in many other countries. This complex system of laws ultimately defines each wine region and its boundaries and imposes strict rules around winemaking practices. Protecting the names of French wines and guaranteeing the quality and provenance of the products themselves are its key objectives. No other country has developed its appellation system to such an extent; as of 2012, there were more than 450 controlled appellations under the AOC titles and a further 150 Vin de Pays/IGP titles.

Burgundy

Burgundy

The Burgundy wine region in central-eastern France, near the city of Dijon, is built on centuries of winemaking tradition, with close historical links to the monasteries. Burgundy’s patchwork quilt of vineyards and associated terroirs – or ‘climats‘ – gained UNESCO world heritage status in July 2015.

Burgundy wines come from several distinct sub-regions, each with its own particular character. Four of these are located at the heart of Burgundy, in a narrow strip running for 75 miles (120km) between the towns of Dijon and Macon. From north to south they are the Cote d'Or (comprising the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune), the Cote Chalonnaise and the Maconnais.

Chablis, situated in an isolated pocket of limestone hills in north-western Burgundy, produces white wines so distinct in style from those of central Burgundy that it is often treated as a region in its own right.

The two key grape varieties of Burgundy are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both members of the extended 'Pinot' family of grape varieties. Their 'poor cousins' Gamay and Aligote are also grown throughout the region, producing more rustic styles of wine. Gamay is used in the red and rosé wines of Macon, while Aligote has its own appellation in the form of Bourgogne Aligote. In the late 14th century, the first Duke of Burgundy outlawed Gamay, dismissing it as unfit for consumption. It was still permitted within the Rhone administrative region, however, where it found a new home in Beaujolais.

The Burgundian climate is predominantly continental, with relatively short summers and cool winters, making it a challenge for the grapes to ripen fully. The greatest threats for Burgundy’s grape-growers – especially those in Chablis – are spring frosts and hail, which can cause great damage to flowering vines. The landscape here is characterized by its limestone soils, manifested either in rolling hills, steep, sharp valleys or rocky outcrops. These soils are of immense importance to the character of Burgundy’s wines, bringing a quintessential minerality and complexity – particularly to the white wines. In fact, along with considerations of orientation, it is the precise soil make-up of the best Burgundy vineyards that brings them the honor of Premier Cru or Grand Cru status