A Drink From The Porron
Old Vines and New Frontiers in Southern Burgundy
Marcel Couturier comes from a long line of vignerons in the southern Mâconnais, where he is just one of four producers estate bottling in Mâcon-Loché. Marcel is a perfectionist, a man on a mission who is not afraid to go against the current trend of making cheap wines for fast consumption. He likes to take his time and do things the right way, with respect for each terroir and resulting wine. Descending from many generations of farmers in the Mâconnais, he is patient to take his time in the vineyard, as well as the cellar, allowing each wine to reveal itself. Marcel stands out as a traditionalist with his old vines and high standards in an area which is quickly defining itself as a source of top-notch white Burgundy.
When you visit Marcel Couturier, he'll want to take you straight out into the vineyards. If you don't make a significant effort to rein him in, you will spend many hours village-hopping around the area, visiting parcel after parcel, learning about the subtleties and minutiae of each one. Indeed, Marcel is downright obsessed with the idea of terroir and expressing it through his wines. His farming is meticulous, employing only organic methods, he plows the soil constantly to curtail weeds and believes the hard, poor clay soils greatly benefit from the aeration and introduction of organic materials. He is notable for being a non-interventionist in the cellar, utilizing native yeast fermentations deep in his cold cellar in Loché in traditional Burgundy barrels. Marcel never rushes his fermentations by warming the cellar, both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations occur on their own schedules. His wines offer delicacy and aromatic complexity as a result.
While there are obviously many, many complexities that bring about the different profiles of his cuvées, if pushed Marcel will grudgingly simplify: the most important aspect is probably the clay content of the parcel. The percentage, depth, and density of the clay content are what provides breadth and the structure of the wines. Roughly speaking, more clay equals broader and more structured wines.
There is one notable exception to this in his lineup: the Saint-Véran La Cour des Bois. This site is unusual for the southern Mâconnais. La Cour des Bois is a small plateau, slightly exposed to the east, with ancient alluvial soils and rolled galets. The site is a high spot of an ancient riverbed. These soils are acidic sandy loam, with very acidic clay underneath. This particular terroir gives the wine an airy, fresh, crisp quality which is uniquely Saint-Véran.
For these reasons, Marcel Couturier’s star has quickly risen since his first vintage in 2005. His wines have now become features in many of France’s premier wine programs due to their grace and flexibility with elegant cuisine. These are truly white Burgundies for the table.
Vintages 2014 and 2015
We also like to take our time and get behind great people, ideas and the produce of their toils. When you have a perfect storm of a gifted producer like Marcel with incredible old-vines and you get back-to-back stellar vintages like 2014 and 2015, you buy as much as you can of these limited cuvées. That is exactly what we did with these vintages, grabbing as many cases for the US and our cellars as Marcel would allow. The Mâconnais produced classically structured, vibrant, mineral-driven wines from the long, cool 2014 vintage. This was followed by a warm, rich vintage in 2015 from a shorter, dry growing season which produced fully-developed exotic wines. In short, the two vintages offer something for every white Burgundy lover. We are thrilled to be able to offer a variety of village wines and lieux-lits from both vintages.
Current Limited Offering
Saint-Véran La Cour des Bois 2014
Made with fruit from 70 to 80-year-old vines at the very southern end of the appellation near the village of Chânes, in Saint-Véran. The vinification here is unique, in that this is the only cuvée fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 11 months with half in 4 to 6-year-old Burgundy barrels and the remainder in stainless steel. Flinty and racy, with aromas of preserved lemon and zippy acidity. This wine has great presence on the palate yet remains incredibly nimble and vivacious. A great wine for richer seafood preparations. 180 cases imported from the exceptional 2014 vintage.
Pouilly-Loché Le Bourg 2014
From a tiny enclosed parcel of over 70-year-old vines from an exceptional site, in the village of Loché, known for heavy clay calcareous soils which give wines of substance and grip. A long, slow natural fermentation is carried out in traditional Burgundy barrels, aged for 12 months. A long and complex Chardonnay with classic notes of apples, quince, mushrooms, spice box: the list of aromatic descriptors could go on forever... The structure and density on the palate make this a wine whose evolution you'll want to watch over the next few years. 80 cases imported.
Pouilly-Loché Vieilles Vignes 2014
A special, limited cuvée from Marcel's oldest vines in the village of Loché, from less than 1ha of old-vines which produces a very concentrated wine which is only made in great vintages. A long, slow natural fermentation is carried out in traditional Burgundy barrels, aged for 11 months. A wine of incredible grip and complexity, made to improve with age. Only fruit from over 85-year-old vines is utilized in this cuvée and we are lucky to receive just 60 cases for the US.
Pouilly-Fuissé Clos Reyssié 2015
Marcel owns 0.5ha in the famed Clos Reyssié vineyard in the village of Chaintré, one of four villages which comprise Pouilly-Fuissé. His family has an intimate relationship with this vineyard, beginning with his great-grandfather having drawn the map for original boundaries of Clos Reyssié. One of just 12 producers in in the vineyard, his parcel is towards the lower part of the slope, which is beneficial, as a lot of the heavier clay elements get washed from the top. Heavy clay with a vein of limestone running throughout, this vineyard gives incredibly complex, opulent wines which are deeply satisfying. We are pleased to offer 90 cases of Pouilly-Fuissé Clos Reyssié from the historic 2015 vintage.
In the Press
From SevenFifty Daily
Blind Tasting Tips from Mollie Battenhouse, MW"The Jackson Family Wines education director accepts the SevenFifty Daily Supertasters challenge" Video by SevenFifty Daily Editors, April 16, 2018
Josh Raynolds reviews Nicolas Badel Intuition 2015, 93 point and Nicolas Badel Saint-Joseph Les Mourrays 2015, 92 points, April 1, 2018 (requires login)
From SevenFifty Daily
Embracing Old Oak Barrels: "Some winemakers are using 100-year-old barrels, disproving the premise that they must be discarded after five years." By Katherine Cole, March 15, 2018
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