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Celebrating Spring with Garden Party and Wines of Fleurie

Fleurie – this is what comes to mind when spring is here, and everything is blooming, growing, and flourishing. And even though name of this beautiful cru Beaujolais has nothing to do with nature,* delicate bouquet, floral flavors, and silky texture of its wine make it number one choice for spring and early summer drinking.

*Fleurie is named after the Roman legionnaire, Florus who built his house on top of one of the hills above the vines.

Cru Beaujolais and Wines of Fleurie

Cru Beaujolais is the highest category of classification in Beaujolais (south of Burgundy), account for the production within 10 villages/areas in the foothill of Beaujolais mountains. The wines are labeled with the cru from which they hail, be it Fleurie, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, etc. They are ranked higher because they tend to offer much more than the basic Beaujolais: more structure, more complex flavors and ageability. They can even stand against some fine Burgundy wines at just a fraction of the price.

Fleurie is one of the ten Beaujolais crus, located in the northern part of Beaujolais appellation. The terroir is 90% pink granite soils that are slowly being eroded. It’s this specific terroir that brings out the best in Gamay grape and gives the wine its velvety texture, subtle fruity flavors and floral aromatics.

Pink granitic crystalline rock, typical of Fleurie
Pink granitic crystalline rock, typical of Fleurie

Château de Poncié – the Fleurie Cru’s finest flower

Château de Poncié has always helped to build the reputation of Fleurie, described as producing pure, elegant, terroir-driven wines.

The story of the Château de Poncié  goes back to 949 AD when owner of Villa Ponciago (the Latin name of Château de Poncié), donated his property to the Abbey of Cluny in order to ‘save his soul’. More than a 1000 years after, the Henriot family (yes, that famous Champagne house) decided to revive this beautiful terroir and restore the Domaine to its former prosperity.

Today, Château de Poncié comprises of 120 hectares of land surrounding 18th century Chateau and winery. Only 46 hectares with the best exposure are given over to the cultivation of the vines. The rest of the land are woods and meadows that shape the beauty of the landscape and preserve its biodiversity.

Using sustainable agriculture approach, maintaining moderate yields, hand harvesting, parcel-by-parcel vinification, and subtle maturing in oak casks enable Château de Poncié to express unique nuances of their vineyard terroirs and to produce fine, elegant wines famous for their silky texture.

“To restore the domain to its former glory, work in the vineyards is essential. We first need to bring out finesse through low yields. Poor soils help us to reign in the vine’s vigor naturally. We try to optimize the foliage surface area to receive as much sunlight as possible, which will give us good mature grapes. Then I want to revitalize the soil to reveal the terroir, prevent erosion, promote biodiversity with grass cover and the planting of flower beds… My job is to gently coax the vine to draw finesse and terroir aromas from our rocky hillsides.”

                                                                                       Joseph Bouchard, Vineyard Manager

2010, Château de Poncié Fleurie "Le Pré Roi"
2010, Château de Poncié Fleurie “Le Pré Roi”

Château de Poncié wines tasted during Spring Garden Party in NYC on April 23rd, 2018

Château de Poncié Fleurie “Le Pré Roi” is a selection from four finest complimentary parcels of Château de Poncié located in the northeast of Fleurie.

I’ve tasted three different vintages of Le Pré Roi – all different, but each displaying finesse, elegance and silky texture. The vintage of 2016 is typical Fleurie – pure Gamay, light and vibrant with tart flavors of cherries, blueberries and a hint of violet. 2015 was extraordinary year – the wine is rich and concentrated, but underpinned by the juicy acidity. 2010 is a completely different animal – Gamay with the character of Pinot Noir – earthy and long-flavored with aromas evocative of wet forest floor, barnyard and spice.

Château de Poncié Fleurie “La Salomine” is a single vineyard wine that profoundly reflects its terroir, the most challenging of the estate – steep southeast facing slopes, set directly on outcropping bedrock with only 40-60cm of highly mineral soil. Deep, blackberry fruit on the nose, underlined by the floral scent of early spring peonies. Dense and mineral on the palate it melts in your mouth continuing to unfold the flavors before finally fading away.

Spring Garden Party and a glass of Fleurie

Recommended Fleurie producers: Château de PonciéClos de la Roilette, Jean-Louis Dutraive, Anne-Sophie Dubois

Other popular Cru Beajolais: Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon, and Brouilly 

Discover France’s lesser-known value wine regions.

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