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March 10, 2021 | Elden Selections

STEPHANIE SAUMAIZE AND THE CHATEAU DE VERGISSON

Pouilly-Fuissé wines – opulent, noble whites from the Mâconnais region – are sold under an appellation of the same name. The name is taken from two distinct villages in the area of production – Pouilly and Fuissé. Wines of nearby Vergisson and Chaintre are also sold under the same appellation. But look a bit deeper into the name Vergisson and you will find a further pairing of great names – those of Stephanie Saumaize and Pierre Laroche, who together set up the Domaine du Chateaux de Vergisson, in 2012. 

Both Stephanie and Pierre are locals (Stephanie from Solutré and Pierre from Vergisson) and both studied at the school of enology at the Lyceé Viticole de Davayé. Though they are both from wine families, neither family made their own, preferring instead to sell their grapes to local negociants. That all changed when the couple began to bottle using their own label, which is now rapidly becoming known for the quality and finesse their wines exhibit. 

They began producing around 500 bottles of Pouilly-Fuissé annually on land borrowed from Pierre’s father, in what many believe to be the spiritual home of the Chardonnay grape. Today, that figure stands at around 8,000 bottles (with a similar number for Saint Veran and Macon Solutré), and they work on 24 acres of beautiful Burgundy countryside. They use manual harvesting (keeping a close eye on each grape bunch for signs of maturity) and work organically.

Perhaps the most versatile of their three distinct cuvees of Pouilly-Fuissé is their ‘Sur La Roche’ – from vines planted a century ago by Pierre’s grandfather. With this impressive age comes a depth and focus that has to be tasted to be believed. Elegant, fresh, with overtones of the sea and an almost everlasting minerality, it’s a simply outstanding expression of the Burgundian terroir. And terroir is crucial here – almost infinite in variety and very well-loved, so that some enthusiasts can tell each plot apart by taste alone. Elden Selections bring you both the 2017 and 2018 vintages. 

Their La Cote Rôtie grows right on the Vergisson rock, and has all the rich, citrussy, saline fruit and minerality you’d expect – and more besides. 

And as everyday-drinking Burgundy, look no further than the Chateau de Vergisson Pouille-Fuissé 2017 and 2018, and their Saint Veran 2019.

If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in the area, then it’s not just charming wines that await you, but also fantastic sights. Pouilly-Fuissé is a treat for all of the senses, located in a natural amphitheatre made by the rocks of nearby Solutré and Vergisson. A visit to the Atrium of the Pouilly-Fuissé Producer’s Association is also worthwhile. And as the region was recently granted Premier Cru status for 22 of its climats beginning with the 2020 vintage – the first to be granted to Mâconnais vineyards – the popularity of wines like those of Stephanie and Pierre seems likely to keep on growing.

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