Editor’s Note: Gilles Noblet and his eminent Domaine de la Collonge are no strangers to many of our wine club members. In the course of the last five years we have featured Noblet’s excellent estate bottled wines multiple times, but this is the first time we have ever been able to offer this dynamic producers Vieilles Vignes (Old Vines) Les Champs. It is produced in very small quantities from the estate’s oldest vines; and unlike Noblet’s other Macon wines, the Vieilles Vignes Les Champs sees extensive barrel aging in new oak. The result is a rich decadent style of Pouilly-Fuissé, which is both immensely interesting as well as satisfying. Nevertheless, the 2004 Domaine de la Collonge Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes Les Champs is a wine in its infancy. Like all fine Burgundy wines, red or white, it will improve with patience under proper storage conditions. Enjoy this outstanding white Burgundy now and for the next several years!
Gilles Noblet’s Domaine de la Collonge is a small family owned and run estate of only 22 acres. Gilles is the fourth generation member of his family to make wine at this prized property. In addition, Gilles’ wife hails from prime viticultural stock, too. For the record, Madame Noblet is the sister of Jacky Janodet, the reigning champion of Grand Cru Beaujolais, so wine and winemaking run deep in the heart and soul of this estate as well as in the terroir of Domaine de la Collonge’s well-tended vineyards.
The name Domaine de la Collonge derives from the sector or area (known as an aire) of the Fuissé commune that is called Collonge. Most of Gilles Noblet’s estate is spread along the hills of la Collonge, which yield on average only a little more than six thousand cases of estate bottled Pouilly-Fuissé each year. In addition to producing outstanding Pouilly-Fuissé, Monsieur Noblet also fashions small quantities of Macon-Fuissé, Pouilly-Loché, and St. Véran – all elegant Chardonnay based wines similar to Pouilly-Fuissé – which emanate from neighboring appellations just outside the boundary of Pouilly-Fuissé. However, what must be one of Burgundy’s best-kept secrets is Noblet’s extraordinary Vieilles Vignes Les Champs Pouilly-Fuissé, which he makes only in very limited quantities and in the finest vintages.
Although not certified organic, Domaine Gilles Noblet practices sustainable agriculture and uses non-interventionist methods almost exclusively. No artificial fertilizers or insecticides are employed, and only natural yeast is used in fermentation. Moreover, the average age of the vines at Domaine de la Collonge averages more than forty years, while many vines are considerably older. These old vines and reduced yields result in wines that are more generous and concentrated than the average Pouilly-Fuissé.
In an appellation that turns out large quantities of wine, Gilles Noblet decided a long time ago to dance to a different beat. Rather, the Domaine de la Collonge style of Pouilly-Fuissé is one of concentration, purity, and the honest expression of the appellation’s terroir. Noblet’s Pouilly-Fuissé features a real balance between flesh and bone or fruit and minerality, if you will. In addition, Noblet uses traditional wooden foudres (large wooden tanks) with temperature control elements for fermentation to insure fine texture and a gentle roundness in his Pouilly-Fuissé. For his regular estate bottling of Pouilly-Fuissé, he ages the wine in a combination of foudres and small oak barriques, of which only 20% are new each year. For the Vieilles Vignes Les Champs, Noblet employs considerably more new oak barriques and prefers an extended stay in barrel. The result is classic white Burgundy that will drink well young and also continue to age to perfection for at least three or four more years.