Everything starts with the osmosis between soil and vine
'Of all the Burgundian appellations, Pouilly-Fuissé is, without doubt, the most diverse in terms of its geology. While it offers a similar range of geological terrains as the other appellations of the Maconnais, it has a broader compass than any of them. Overall, its geological faultlines and slopes are more pronounced, there is a greater occurrence of the unexpected, and the changes from one type of soil to another are more dramatic.' Extract from a report by the Sigales Consultants, soil mapping specialists.
The variety of rocks present in the soils of Fuissé is the most diverse of the entire appellation, and Domaine Ferret, whose parcels are spread across the breadth of Fuissé is one of the appellation's best ambassadors. The soils can be extremely shallow, based on hard limestone derived from seams of chert, but they can also be clay-rich, derived from marns, schists or volcanic-sedimentary sandstones. Furthermore, the bedrock, a lacustrine limestone that is exposed to the east of the Beauregard plateau, dates back more than 330 million years.
At Domaine Ferret, making great wine depends, above all, on a respect for heritage - not only of the soil, but also of the human beings who drink its wine and who cultivate its vines.
Carefully tended, sometimes planted alongside cover crops, but always given due respect and attention, each of the domaine's vines is managed according to its needs. The exceptional, here, is the norm. By knowing the soils in depth, even down to knowing the last detail of its distant origins, those who work in the vineyards prove their love for it and oversee their needs in order to be able to hand on nature's gift to future generations.
The property's vineyards cover 17 hectares of the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation.
The promise of life
Every year, at the end of summer, we take up the 100-metre challenge - or, rather, the 10-day challenge. Over the course of 10 days, all our work over the course of the year comes to fruition as we sketch the outline of a vintage. After this moment has passed, we can do no more than colour in between the lines we have drawn.
The first of three key stages is the date of harvest. Over the course of a few days we travel from stake to stake, testing the tension of the skins with the tips of our fingers, tasting the juicy flesh of the grapes, crunching down on the pips! And, above all else, we pay close attention to the way the grapes taste - Chardonnay is not an aromatic variety, and nuance is all.
At Domaine Ferret, hand harvesting has always been the rule. Our picking teams return each year, most notably the Poles, led by Zbigniew, who has 32 consecutive vintages under his belt. There's a love story here, too - the tale of how he met his wife, and how these days their two children join them to harvest the grapes and continue the tale. They're joined by two rejuvenated teams, who roll up their shirt sleeves and get down to it alongside the Poles; benevolent teams composed of Greek athletes and Spanish labourers.
Whether harvest begins on the 20th of August or towards the end of September, picking begins early, soon after dawn - although we stop picking well before the harsh midday sunbeams can have an adverse effect on our freshly picked grapes.
Once deposited in small bins, our bunches are sped to the winery, where they wait in the cool shade to be pressed.
The second key stage is the press. The bunches are crushed whole. The pressure used is very gentle, and the use of whole bunches allow for optimal drainage.
Afterwards comes observation, tasting, measuring - all vital. After all the free-run juice has been expressed, there's a need to create some press juice. The precise amount to be used, however, has to be carefully calibrated to the character of each vintage. Afterwards, the must gently descends into the tanks by gravity.
Then comes the last stage of the process, but not the least. The dice are thrown. The settling of the must is a stage that could well borrow from the terms and techniques used in another discipline, that of patisserie. Does this surprise you? It shouldn't, because it's the precision with which we manage this process that will help to set up the best possible conditions for the yeasts to work in and which will influence the further development of the wine.
This is the moment to let go, to let nature take its course. The hustle and bustle of harvest is over, now is the time for patient surveillance. We like the process to have rhythm, but not haste. It can take place in stainless steel tanks, in concrete eggs, in 228-litre barrels whose wood comes from the forests of Nevers and the Tronçais. Once again, the juice flows into the barrels by gravity once fermentation is finished.
The moment of creation
Calmness is very much the order of the day. The cellar is silent, movement is almost languorous. Batonnage is the rhythm by which we measure the weeks and the months. The first part of the ageing, which lasts almost a year, takes place in barrel, then the wines are blended together, along with their lees, in tank. This part of the maturation process can last up to eight months.
In Fuissé, we don't send our wines to the bottling line, the bottling line comes to our cellar. As we have no wish to disturb our precious Chardonnay, a small team manages the process in close proximity to the tanks. There is no need to involve useless pipes and unnecessary pumps.
The spirit of the domaine is finally captured in the bottle. It will be kept in our cellars at a constant temperature until the moment it's shipped to you. It's now up to you to continue our work. Many grateful thanks, in advance, for your support in doing so.