Marc Deschamps, Pouilly-Fumé "Vinéalis"
Marc Deschamps, Pouilly-Fumé "Vinéalis"

Marc Deschamps, Pouilly-Fumé "Vinéalis"

Loire Valley, France 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$40.00

Marc Deschamps, Pouilly-Fumé "Vinéalis"

We’ve offered Marc Deschamps’ Pouilly-Fumé “Vinéalis” for years now, every vintage further reinforcing our belief that it’s one of France’s greatest white wines. “Vinéalis” is a wine to silence anyone who thinks of Sauvignon Blanc as strictly a crisp quaffer; it’s an aromatic and textural marvel that stands toe-to-toe with the finest bottles in the Loire Valley. Yet it remains criminally undervalued—at $40 per bottle, it costs half or even a third of the cultish Dagueneau and Vatan cuvées it competes with. It’s extraordinary in every sense of the word, being produced only in the best vintages, fermented and aged in oak unlike so much Pouilly-Fumé, and crafted in painfully miniscule quantities. Every year we gleefully fight for our small ration of the barely 50 cases that make it stateside. 

Deschamps calls the tiny hamlet Les Loges, a tiny town just outside the region’s namesake Pouilly-sur-Loire, home. Here he farms an incredible 8.5-hectare collection of Sauvignon Blanc and Chasselas vines, all planted in the iconic Kimmeridgian limestone that imbues Sancerre and Chablis with their characteristic mineral tension. His prized holding is one “Champs de Cris,” a vineyard in which even the “young vines” approach 60 years of age. For “Vinéalis,” though, Marc sets aside the very oldest vines, all of them over 70 years and some approaching a century. 

In the vineyards, Marc works organically, without any herbicides or pesticides, and using only copper sulfate sprays. Once harvest rolls around, every cluster of grapes is treated with the utmost care. Each is picked by hand, carted to the winery in small boxes, then fermented spontaneously in neutral barrels. “Vinéalis” then rests on its lees until the following autumn, adding further complexity and textural depth. It all stands in sharp contrast to the standard Pouilly-Fumé model, in which wines are quickly fermented with cultured yeast and rushed into bottle so as to land first in export markets. In short, Marc pays his venerable terroir the respect it’s due, and in so doing turns out a wine that combines the piercing minerality of top-tier Sancerre, the brooding mystery of mature Savennières or Vouvray, and the depth and length of Grand Cru Chablis. 

When you pop “Vinéalis,” skip the typical all-purpose glass you’d break out for the Sauvignon Blanc aperitif, and go for the big Burgundy bowl. You’ll want to appreciate the full aromatic range on display here. It pours a light golden-yellow with flickers of silver. At first blush, it offers up classic Loire Sauvignon Blanc citrus and stone fruit aromas – grapefruit peel, lemon zest, white peach pit. But after a few swirls, further, deeper complexities emerge, a melange of fresh-cut hay, pear flesh, and beeswax, through which a scintillating pulverized chalk minerality runs. On the palate it’s a masterclass in balance, creamy breadth married to an uplifting acidity in the finish. “Vinéalis” can sometimes run toward the opulent and tropical side of Sauvignon Blanc, but in the cool 2021 vintage, those dimensions are gestured toward without ever overwhelming its defining freshness. It’s wildly complex and delicious now, but store this properly and I’ve got no doubt it’s going to offer up to and over a decade’s worth of enjoyment. Be sure to grab enough!
Marc Deschamps, Pouilly-Fumé "Vinéalis"

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