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Pouille-Fuissé provides affordable taste of white Burgundy

| Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

Pouilly-Fuissé — call it the other white Burgundy.

Like the more famous white wines from Burgundy's Côte-d'Or department to the north, Pouilly-Fuissé (pronounced poo-ee fweeesay) whites derive from chardonnay vines cultivated primarily in the limestone-rich clay soils. But with Pouilly-Fuissé, the vines lie in Burgundy's southernmost district known as the Mâconnais.

Unlike Côte-d'Or whites that have become some of the world's most-expensive wines ounce for ounce, Pouilly-Fuissé whites still carry relatively reasonable prices — typically less than half the price per bottle of Côte-d'Or whites. This creates especially good values in cooperative vintages, such as 2009 and 2010.

The key to enjoyment comes in identifying high-quality producers who toil in relative obscurity in the villages of Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly, Vergisson and C haintré that make up the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation. The best wines deliver rich, ripe fruit and terrifically refreshing acidity, deftly balanced by oak notes and intriguing earthy nuances.

The style pairs beautifully with grilled salmon or a smoked mozzarella, tomato and basil tart. Try the following tasty wines. (Note: the Louis Jadot wine has good distribution generally at PLCB stores, but the PLCB Luxury store at the Waterworks in Aspinwall has the best availability for the other selections):

2010 Maison Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé, France (Luxury 6411; on sale: $21.99): The Beaune-based Louis Jadot firm buys grapes extensively from prime hillside locations to make this excellent representation of Pouilly- Fuissé. Part of the fruit is fermented in stainless-steel tanks to highlight freshness while the other portion is fermented in oak barrels to add richness and smoky complexity.

The wine's golden color offers citrus and honey notes. Round, ripe citrus and honey flavors carry through on the palate, while lively acidity balances subtle creamy notes. The fruity, but dry finish lingers pleasantly.Highly recommended.

2009 Domaine des Brulins Pouilly-Fuissé, France (Luxury 18599; $22.99): The deep-yellow color offers citrus and pear aromas with intriguing earthy notes. Fresh, crisp apple and citrus flavors balance nicely with refreshing mineral notes. The wine finishes with lean, yet beautiful, elegant fruitiness. Yet it closes dry. Recommended.

2010 Vincent Girardin Pouilly-Fuissé “Vieilles Vignes,” France (Luxury 45534; $28.99): The talented and hard-working Vincent Girardin works out of Meursault in the Côte-d'Or, but as a négociant, his long-standing connections with terrific growers in Pouilly- Fuissé makes this wine possible.

In this capacity, he collaborates closely with growers on important tasks such as pruning and combatting pests and diseases. Then, Girardin purchases the fruit to make, blend and finish the wines prior to bottling.

While “Vieilles Vignes” — that is, “old vines” — has no specific definition, this wine clearly benefits from the use of low yields of high quality, complex fruit. Citrus and quince aromas open to sweet apple and citrus flavors. Lovely acidity balances the wine's intriguing creaminess through a fruity, yet dry and elegant finish.Highly recommended.

2010 Domaine Sophie Cinier Pouilly-Fuissé, France (Luxury 36059; $35.99): According to Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne, an association of female winemakers in Burgundy, winegrower Sophie Cinier experienced a pivotal moment on her 18th birthday: “In my grandfather's cellar, he had me tasting a Pouilly-Fuissé from my birth year. Not really good!,” Cinier says. “But I remember the cheerful look on Pierre's face, my grandfather, and the magic of this moment.”

So, when another pivotal moment came in 2000 and Cinier inherited her grandfather's vines in her native Pouilly, she did not hesitate. Instead of selling the estate, she returned to assume the reins as winegrower.

All vineyard work takes place by hand on three key sites — Vers Châne, Les Gaulias, and La Dame Charnay — where the vines average 50 years in age. To finish the wine, Cinier uses oak barrels ranging from 3 to 5 years old to age the wine for 12 months. This creates intriguing complexity and depth.

The wine opens with lovely citrus and honey aromas. Elegant citrus and pleasant oak flavors balance with fresh acidity through the elegant, dry finish. Recommended.

Dave DeSimone is the wine writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ddesimone@tribweb.com.

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