Sophie’s tiny estate produced its first wines only in 2000, though on her mother’s side the family has lived in Fuissé and been involved in wine production since at least the time of her grandfather. Vines he planted in 1941 came back under Sophie’s control when she returned in 1998, and there is a lovely range of different styles from this tiny domaine. The vineyard area has recently expanded to a massive four hectares (just under). She bought a new vineyard of 1.2 hectares in Igé, 10 miles north of her home in Fuissé. It’s planted with a hectare of Chardonnay for two new wines, a Bourgogne Blanc and a Mâcon Villages Le Clos, and 0.2 ha is planted to pinot noir. In addition to the grapes supplied by her own vineyards there are a few wines which come from purchased grapes. So her St Véran A la Côte is technically a negociant wine. Unlike large parts of the Mâconnais where machine harvesting is the norm, Sophie’s vineyard work is entirely manual, and she does not own a tractor, apart from the old one, rusting in her yard. But these extra vines need more hands in the vineyards, so her partner, Alain, has joined the business payroll. The plan is to turn the vineyards fully organic.
2018 brought Sophie her first opportunity to try her hand at red wine making, something she has long dreamed of. So we have a few bottles of this first vintage to offer in both colours. All her “Mâcon” wines are unoaked, and the others are all barrel-fermented (St Véran, Viré-Clessé, Pouilly-Fuissé, Pouilly Vinzelles). Oak ageing uses only a tiny proportion of new barrels, and there is no lees stirring, and none of the fashionable reductive sulphide aromas so much in vogue. The wines look rich but pure and tense.
Sophie is not one for exaggeration, but described 2018 to me as ‘great’. (And this is while she still had the 2017s to sell!) Actually I’m not sure if the wines are much better than her beautiful 2017s, but there is a good quantity of ripe wine, full-flavoured, but with an exciting and bracing acidity. (LF 4/20)
Watch a video of Sophie and Alain working in a Mâcon Fuissé vineyard: