White From €18, £22.50, $32.99, NZ$55, 175 Brazilian reals, 6,048 Japanese yen
Red From €26.25, £23.70, 5,184 Japanese yen, 175 Brazilian reals
Not long ago I published an article on What will replace burgundy? with many a specific recommendation of fine Pinot Noir producers all over the world. But I should have mentioned the best producers just to the south of the Côte d'Or, the Côte Chalonnaise.
At the recent showing of 2015 burgundies put on by London importer Domaine Direct on which I reported yesterday, I was particularly struck by the value offered by a red and a white from Jean-Baptiste Ponsot of Rully. We all know the other Ponsot clan, now dispersed between the family perch above Morey-St-Denis and Laurent Ponsot's new premises outside Gilly-lès-Cîteaux, with their enviable holdings in the grands crus and premiers crus of the Côte d'Or but this is a very different kettle of fish, and very typical of the Côte Chalonnaise.
Jean-Baptiste's grandfather Lucien first planted vines in the 1950s but was a general fruit farmer selling his produce to others. Lucien's son Bernard was good at buying land and selling fruit, particularly to Olivier Leflaive, according to T Edward Wines. Bernard's son Jean-Baptiste took over responsibility for the family's 8.5 ha (21 acres) of vines in 2000 when he was just 20.
Since then this quiet but determined young man has steadily reduced the proportion of grapes sold to others to zero and has been steadily building his reputation as a winemaker and conscientious hands-on vigneron. Agrochemical inputs have been dramatically reduced. He is using only half as much copper (in Bordeaux mixture) as his neighbours (again, I owe T Edward Wine for this titbit). And the wines, combining refreshment with fruit, can be extremely satisfying. According to another UK importer Stannary Street, both reds and whites see about 40% new oak, and Jean-Baptiste has extended the time the wines spend in barrel.
As usual in the Côte Chalonnaise, a high proportion of vineyard is deemed a premier cru. The two 2015s that showed so well recently were representatives of two of the three premiers crus in which Ponsot has both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines.
Dom Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Montpalais Blanc Premier Cru 2015 Rully really made an impact, and rather reminded me of a Dom Jean-Marc Boillot white with its dramatic combination of ripeness and precision. Broad and appealing on the nose, it provided a massive mouthful of flavour but was far from blowsy. It could easily be mistaken for an opulent Côte d'Or white. I thought it was very good value at £22.50, or £52.80 per magnum, from Domaine Direct as part of a 12 mixed bottles purchase and marked it 16.5+, suggesting a drinking window of 2018–2021. Not a wine for very long ageing, but one that offers a high quotient of pleasure per penny.
I gave Dom Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Molesme Rouge Premier Cru 2015 Rully the same score but suggested drinking it between 2019 and 2028. I thought this was also good value at £23.70 from Domaine Direct and was particularly taken by the lightly herbal but not underripe perfume. I enjoyed the freshness of the wine – there was none of the overripeness that can be found in some 2015 red burgundies – and found no suggestion of the rusticity that can dog some Côte Chalonnaise wines, particularly the reds.
According to wine-searcher.com, the white is available in the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Brazil and Japan – impressive distribution for a small domaine.
The red seems to be more difficult to find but stockists are listed on wine-searcher.com in the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan as well as from Domaine Direct in the UK.
We have 45 tasting notes on the wines of Jean-Baptiste Ponsot in our tasting notes database. I see that when I tasted his other 2015s, I was particularly taken by his village white, which comes from the lieu-dit En Bas de Vauvry.
Pictures by John Wyand.