Pouilly-Fuissé was once the darling of American wine drinkers. Fun to pronounce, rich and voluptuous in texture, it was among the first high-end French wines to gain wide appeal in the US.
Popularity bred overproduction, and quality suffered in the 80s. But in the last few decades local winemakers have begun to reclaim the wine, controlling balance and elevating quality. Nicolas Maillet, our source in the Maconnais, has taken this development to an extreme.
His exceptional Pouilly-Fuissé was once the only white in his lineup raised in any oak, but beginning last year he has eliminated oak for this one too. When we asked him about his decision to omit oak from the winemaking, he explained it simply: “I realized the wine is good enough without oak; it doesn’t need it. So why add it?”
Maillet’s Pouilly-Fuissé vines are from an extraordinary plot: vines planted in 1945, from one of a handful of terroirs recently elevated to Premier Cru status. (The new status will appear on the label beginning in 2017.) Longtime readers may remember the now-retired Michel Forests’s excellent “Sur la Roche” cuvée — Maillet’s vines are from the same vineyard.
One taste of this wine and we think you’ll agree: it’s not missing anything. The terroir gives extraordinary complexity on its own — baked lemon, minerals, flowers, and herbs melt into a gorgeous and pulsating texture. The nose is expressive and delicate; the mouth is startlingly long.
But, as with everything else graced by the “Maillet touch,” the balance is impeccable: acidity, richness, length and aromatics all in perfect harmony. It’s elegant, polished, sophisticated white Burgundy; and an overperforming one under $40.
Maillet Pouilly-Fuissé 2016
bottle price: $38
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