Domaine du Clos des Rocs

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You may be wondering why you haven’t previously heard about Pouilly-Loché, for which you can hardly be blamed. The entire appellation covers a mere 32 hectares, of which nearly 30% belongs to Clos des Rocs. To our knowledge, no estate-bottled wine from the appellation has appeared in the U.S. in the recent past, despite the fact that the AOC dates back to 1940 and enjoys a strong reputation locally in the Maconnais. As this was our first serious exposure to a full range of cuvees from the appellation, we were eager to understand what, if any, differences in terroir would be evident in the glass. The soils are characterized by iron-rich clay and limestone, often with up to 30cm of dense limestone pebble dispersion at the surface. The resulting wines are leaner than their counterparts in neighboring Pouilly Fuisse and carry a hint of earth, yet they are quite rich in mineral, with enough fruit density to properly support the robust structural elements. Each wine is compelling and exciting to a degree that we have made a significant commitment to the domaine, and will be importing over the coming months each of the seven cuvées produced at the domaine.

The estate counts 8.6 hectares of vines across seven parcels, principally in Pouilly-Loché, with plots in Macon-Loché and Pouilly-Fuissé rounding out the holdings. No chemical products are used in the vineyard and Olivier is committed to organic processes from start to finish, though he has chosen not to pursue certification. All grapes are manually harvested before a long pressing, followed by alcoholic fermentation using only indigenous yeasts; the élévage varies by cuvée and is detailed in the specific descriptions of each of the wines.

Clos-des-Rocs-Macon-Loche-En-Pres-Foret Macon-Loché En Près Foret: Sourced from a small 0.5ha parcel of 25-year vines, with a southeast exposition and clay-limestone soil. Fermentation and elevage are split between roughly 75% steel cuve and 25% neutral oak. The wine is fresh and clean, with pleasant aromatic concentration, citrus notes, and an airy finish. As with the series of Macon-Villages produced at Cheveau, this surprisingly complex, satisfying wine offers compelling value.
Clos-des-Rocs-Pouilly-Fuisse-Les-Pierrotes Pouilly-Fuissé Les Pierrotes: The estate’s lone parcel outside of the commune of Loché is planted to old vines with a full-south exposition within the lieu-dit of “Vers Chanes” which produces a classic Pouilly-Fuissé, rich and dense. Raised in neutral demi-muid (500L barrel), this typically ripe wine has a balancing tension that gives an elegance worthy of this noble appellation.
Clos-des-Rocs-Pouilly-Loche-4-Saisons Pouilly-Loché Les 4 Saisons: Two small parcels of 40-year vines, planted on noble clay and situated northwest of the hamlet of Loché, are the source of the grapes for this wine . Elevage is split evenly between steel cuve and neutral oak barrel. Intensely mineral with a bright acidity and fine aromatics, this “Loché” opens up early and is perhaps the most precocious of the various offerings from this appellation.
Clos-des-Rocs-Pouilly-Loche-Les-Barres Pouilly-Loché Les Barres: Two parcels, with vines aged 30 and 70 years and both facing the Clos des Rocs, comprise this cuvée . The soils are more gravelly, with stones interspersed. 80% of the wine is raised in old barrels, with the balance in cuve. The wine is exceptionally lively and carries hints of spice, but all of this energy is beautifully controlled on the palate. This is the smallest production of the domaine, at around 300cs per vintage.
Clos-des-Rocs-Pouilly-Loche-Les-Mures Pouilly-Loché Les Mures: The lieu-dit of “Les Mures” is considered to be the finest example of the appellation, though this is due in part to the absence of the Clos des Rocs Monopole cru from the market for many years prior to Olivier’s arrival on the scene. Rankings aside, the 40-year vines and limestone-rich soil of “Les Mures” (situated immediately next to the Clos des Rocs) produce an undeniably fine wine with persistent minerality marked by notes of lemon confit, and finishing with exceptional length. Elevage is half each in cuve and neutral barrel for one year, and this is a true example of a vin de garde from the estate.
Clos-des-Rocs-Pouilly-Loche-En-Chantone Pouilly-Loché En Chantone: From a small 0.65ha site found just 100 meters from the Clos des Rocs Monopole, this parcel yields a surprisingly different wine. A poor top layer of soil means the vines suffer more than neighboring plots, resulting in small, concentrated grapes. The ancient 90 year-old vines also contribute to the low yields. Elevage is all in demi-muid (500L barrels), and the wine shows the rich concentration with generous fruit on the palate, yet the freshness and focus are unwavering. We note a lovely hint of beeswax to the nose and touch of bitterness to the finish – a remarkable wine of depth and character that testifies to the worthiness of this rarely seen appellation.
Clos-des-Rocs-Pouilly-Loche-Monopole Pouilly-Loché Clos des Rocs Monopole: The signature wine of the estate, the enclosed 3ha parcel is located adjacent to the winery. The vines are 70 years old with an eastern exposition, and the soil is a mix of iron-rich red clay and limestone pebbles. The resulting wine is beautifully textured, with saline notes, prominent minerality and impeccable balance; the most complete wine of the domaine and an essential reference point for this worthy but relatively unknown appellation.
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