Château des Rontets - Burgundy / Mâconnais

The vineyards of Château des Rontets, in the appellation of Pouilly-Fuissé, are blessed with a unique exposition. Perched on the summit of the hill which faces north and looks down on the village of Fuissé, elevation 350m and among the highest in all of the Mâconnais, the vineyard temperature is routinely several degrees cooler than that found further down the hillside, among the vines which surrounds the village. Daytime and evening temperatures Claire & Fabiovariations are also greater at the top of the hill and by the end of the growing season, this important factor allows for continued ripening of the fruit while helping to preserve acidity in the waning days of summer. Wind also plays a vital function here on the ridge keeping these vines relatively clean. What is under the soil is no less interesting. 15 - 20 cm of clay and silt sit upon layers of hard limestone and inform the vines above with a distinct minerality as routine plowing obliges the root systems to dig deep in search of subterranean sources of water. It is without surprise then that all taken together, the wines from this rising star producer in Pouilly-Fuissé are usually described as fresh, pure and precise.

The property has belonged to the Gazeau-Varambon family since 1850 and since the late 1990s, husband/wife team Fabio Montrasi and Claire Gazeau have dedicated themselves to the restoration of the family chateau and surrounding vineyards. The estate model here is quite unique in Burgundy and more akin to what finds in Bordeaux, as the vineyard parcels are enclosed within a large wall or clos, surrounding their home and cellar. Two of the four wines come from within the clos (walled in vineyards that surround the château): Clos Varambon which utilizes the grand majority of vines within the clos, planted between 1945 and 2000 and Les Birbettes, which comes from the oldest vines within the enclosure, having been planted in 1920 and 1945. The vineyard for the third wine, Pierrefolle, is 500 meters outside the clos and unlike the vines in front of the chateau, enjoys a east facing exposure and granitic bedrock, which gives an altogether different expression of Chardonnay than the two other wines.

Chateau des RontetsThe couple also farms two parcels totaling one half hectare from the Côte de Besset lieu-dit in the northern Cru Beaujolais village of Saint-Amour, planted in the 1970s by Claire's uncle. Following the inspiration of Jules Chauvet, influential winemaker and writer of the 1950's, the couple vinify the Gamay fruit by carbonic maceration with little outside intervention: whole clusters with no added yeast, no added sugar or sulfites, no pumping over or punching down, just the fruit left alone in tank from two to four weeks, at which time the wine is transferred to 228 and 400 litre barrels to finish both the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations. It's a process which depends on pristine fruit at the outset.

As testament to Claire and Fabio's deep concern for the environment, all of their vineyards are farmed organically and have been certified by Ecocert since 2005. It is not by accident that for many producers in the Joli Vin catalog this just seems like the right way to work and we are proud to have this association with viticulteurs who share this commitment for the land we all share. For a more in depth accounting of their work, with detailed technical information, have a look at the excellent website that Claire and Fabio have assembled.



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Clos VarambonThe 2011 Pouilly-Fuisse Clos Varambon is a blend of vines from around the house planted in 1945…

PierrefolleFrom the granite soils that are deeper and contain more silt, not dissimilar to those of Vinzelles. The east-facing soils have a better exposure than the Clos Varambon …

Les BirbettesThe name derives from Italian slang for a “rascal,” comes from the oldest vines in the clos, a majority planted after phylloxera in the 1920s and the remainder just after World War II.

Saint-Amour Côte de BessetThe Saint-Amour, Côte de Besset is a pure and transparent expression of its high elevation origins and granitic subsoil…