The 2012 Domaine de la Collonge Vieilles Vignes Les Champs Pouilly-Fuissé dazzles the eye with its bright yellow robe, the color of the noon day sun. Even more satisfying are the aromatic scents of soft ripe fruit, acacia flower, forsythia and vanilla that waft from the glass. Better still, once in the mouth, the wine’s delightful bouquet persists and heightens, where dabs of sweet butter, creamy oak and liquefied minerals join with pure ripe fruit. What Gilles Noblet has done with his 2012 Les Champs is create a rich concentrated white Burgundy that many would mistake for Premier Cru Chassagne-Montrachet, yet he has managed to preserve the gentle, satisfying minerality of the finest Pouilly-Fuissé. The 2012 Vieilles Vignes Les Champs is certainly noticeably fuller, richer, and more structured wine than one normally expects from Pouilly-Fuissé, but it also retains Noblet’s seductive signature – namely, the ability to fashion elegant, round, mineral driven wines with a beautiful creamy finish. The wine can be enjoyed now or laid down. Given the wine’s inherent quality and élévage, the 2012 Vieilles Vignes Les Champs should continue to evolve and improve in bottle for several more years. We suggest serving the 2012 Domaine de la Collonge Les Champs moderately chilled (40°- 45° F). Salut!
The 2012 Domaine de la Collonge Vieilles Vignes Les Champs Pouilly-Fuissé is an easy wine to pair with food. Its rich fruit, creamy texture, and deft touches of oak complement cream and cheese based sauces with aplomb, while the wine’s purity and latent minerality also make it the perfect match for shellfish and almost any denizen of the sea. Salmon mousse or a thick crab dip gets our nod as an opening act to serve with Gilles Noblet’s Les Champs Pouilly-Fuissé. Scallops, sautéed in a light cream sauce or prepared as a classic Coquilles St Jacques, provide perennial favorites. To accompany a main course, a whole steamed lobster served with drawn butter gets our vote. However, pasta with shrimp or other fruits de mer, served in an Alfredo sauce, provides a rewarding complement, too. Rotisserie chicken or turkey, accompanied by a light stuffing, also does justice to Gilles Noblet’s rarest, most noble Pouilly-Fuissé. Bon appétit!
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 past decade we have featured Noblet’s excellent estate bottled wines, most Pouilly-Fuissé, Macon-Fuissé and St. Véran, a number of times, but this is the first time in eight years we have been able to procure enough of Gilles Noblet’s extremely limited and most expensive wine, Vieilles Vignes (Old Vines) Les Champs, to offer out members. Les Champs is produced in miniscule 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, more unctuous style of Pouilly-Fuissé that exudes the elegance of Pouilly-Fuissé with the added feel and flavor of first rate Chassagne-Montrachet. Gilles Noblet’s Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes Les Champs is a wine in its infancy, and like its counterparts to the north in Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet it will improve with time under proper storage conditions. Enjoy this outstanding white Burgundy now and for the next several years!
Domaine Gilles Noblet is a small family owned and run estate of only 22 acres. Gilles Noblet bottles his wines as both Domaine Gilles Noblet and Domaine de la Collonge. Gilles is the fourth generation member of his family to make wine at his prized property. In addition, Gilles’ wife hails from prime viticultural stock, too. For the record, Madame Noblet is the sister of the late Jacky Janodet, long renowned for his Grand Cru Beaujolais, so wine and winemaking run deep in the heart and soul of this estate as well as in the terroir of Noblet’s well-tended vineyards.
Most of Gilles Noblet’s estate is spread along the hills of la Collonge, hence the name Domaine de 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, Gilles 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 (this month’s feature), which he makes only in very limited quantities and in the finest vintages.
Although not officially 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, Noblet’s 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 an additional three to five years beyond release.
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