Domaine Tinel-Blondelet "L'Arrêt Buffatte" - Pouilly Fumé
The wine is produced from the best parcel of Sauvignon Blanc averaging 40 years of age covering 3.70 ha and producing a yield of 50 hl/ha. The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats for about 3 weeks at 16°C - 18°C. It will then be aged on fine lees in vats for up to 10 months with some stirring of the lees. The wine can be a little discreet in its first year, but its elegance and finesse shine through after 2 or 3 years of bottle ageing. There is no usage of oak barrels in the winemaking process.
PVins notes: The scents of white flowers and hints of passion fruit are intertwined with the terroir’s minerality. Having spent some time on lees a pleasant texture fills the mouth with a balanced freshness. In fact, it deserves to age in order to best fulfill its subtleness. If you have the patience to cellar it for 7 to 8 years you will be even more surprised by the evolution of its aromatic complexity.
Domaine Tinel-Blondelet is located at Pouilly-sur-Loire on the N7 road. Since 1983, Annick Tinel-Blondelet is the winemaker representing the 12th generation after taking over from her parents Camille and Fernand. In 1994 Annick's husband passed away forcing her to manage the Domaine by herself. The family has a long history in the area which began at the end of the 16th century with Guillaume Blondelet a winegrower at Chaulgnes. Also on Annick's mother's side, the first sign of winegrowers in the family can also be traced back to the 1650s with Louis Figeat.
Annick's father Fernand started with a few hectares of vines in addition to his other agricultural and farming endeavors. As time went by he decided to fully concentrate on viticulture and purchased new parcels. In the 1960’s, he ventured outside the appellation by purchasing a parcel across the Loire river in the neighbouring appellation Sancerre, he named the new wine Domaine La Croix Canat. He was the first vigneron to open a "Cellar Door" on the road National 7 which passes through the village of Pouilly-sur-Loire. The cellar which is located at the southern entrance of the village is still operational today should you have the opportunity to visit the area and taste the wines. The underground cellar is located next door to the tasting room. Over the years Annick has also contributed to the expansion of the estate by purchasing new plots to increase the size of the parcels. For the past few years, Annick's daughter Marlène, is now also involved in the running of the estate representing the 13th generation. She is more involved in marketing and sales.
The Domaine represents about 8 ha with 7.50 ha as Pouilly Fumé and 0.31 ha as Pouilly-sur-Loire. Vines are planted at a density of 6,400 vines per hectare. The only 2 grapes grown on the estate are Sauvignon Blanc and a very small amount of Chasselas for historical reasons, the latter is to produce the Pouilly sur Loire. The wines produced by Annick come front 2 distinct parcels each having a different terroir.
The parcel located on the commune of Le Bouchot representing 3.80 ha has a terroir made of small limestone pebbles known as Villiers limestone. From this parcel the wine “Génetin” is produced from 35 years old vines planted facing South, South-east and also the Pouilly sur Loire from 80 years old vines.
The other 3.70 ha parcel, located near the village Pouilly-sur-Loire, is situated in a geological cirque at the top of the best slopes with a South-West exposure overlooking the Loire river. The parcel is planted with 45 years old vines of Sauvignon Blanc located at the Lieu-dit Les Griottes. The wine produced is “l’Arrêt Buffatte” which benefits from all the potential of the Kimmeridgian marls. The area is also located along the old Roman Road (a paved road made by the Romans) where a rest stop for carriages once stood which was known as “l’Arrêt Buffatte”. Travelers and horses could take a breather, refresh themselves and have a meal, the wine is named after this historic site. This parcel makes it possible for Annick to produce wines that can age and develop a great aromatic complexity. The Premium wine "Quercus", meaning oak in Latin, is also produced from this parcel but only in excellent vintages using the oldest vines that are 50+ years old.
Since July 2014, the estate is HVE (High Environmental) certified. This label, recognised by the Agricultural Ministry, demonstrates the Domaine’s efforts to protect at best the environment, based on indicators of results relative to the biodiversity, the phytosanitary strategy and the management of organic fertilization.
Annick Tinel-Blondelet produces 4 appellation wines a Pouilly sur Loire and 3 Pouilly Fumé named "Génetin", "L'Arrêt Buffatte" and “Quercus”. The winemaking process is classic for whites, the juice of the grapes is extracted with a pneumatic press and then transferred by gravity into the vats. Each vat matches a unique plot to preserve the authenticity of the terroirs. The fermentations in stainless steel vats will last about 3 weeks at a low temperature of around 16-18°c. The wines are aged on fine lees to give the wines a little more texture and aromatic complexity, the vats are located underground in the cellar.
As for the wines, the "L'Arrêt Buffatte" is a little richer on the palate compared to the "Génetin" which comes from a parcel with a cooler terroir. The Premium wine "Quercus" is only produced in excellent vintages with the oldest vines from the same parcel as the "L'Arrêt Buffatte". The difference with this wine is that it is fermented for 1/3 in oak barrels and 2/3 in stainless steel vats and aged for 12 months on fine lees with the same ratio barrel/vats. The wine is a great Sauvignon Blanc to cellar for a decade, it shows hints of vanilla and oak in its youth that will dissipate with age.
Annick has always produces wines that are true to the terroir and expression of Pouilly Fumé. She never tried to copy the “New World” style of Sauvignon Blanc as some have done in the region in the past. Her approach is to let the terroir express itself. She managers to always find the right balance in her wines between the structure, texture and natural acidity even in hot vintages such as the memorable 2003.
Since 1937, Pouilly Fumé is an appellation set around the village of Pouilly-sur-Loire. It is located in the Upper Loire Valley within the sub-region of Centre Loire on the right bank of the Loire River. Its neighbourg Sancerre is located on the opposite bank of the Loire river. The appellation spreads over 8 communes with 1,200 hectares of vineyards. Within the same boundaries, the appellation Pouilly sur Loire can be found only representing 40 hectares planted with the varietal Chasselas. No red or rosé wines are produced in the appellation as the varietal Sauvignon Blanc is the only grape authorised by decree for Pouilly Fumé.
The vineyards date back to the 5th century during the Gallo-Roman era. Traces of the Roman road "la voie Romaine" can still be seen in some areas of Pouilly travelling north to Orléans.
The highest point of the appellation is the village of Saint-Andelain at 270 metres. Several types of terroirs are found in the Pouilly Fumé appellation producing a variety of style of Sauvignon Blanc. The different soils compositions are: Limestone locally called “caillottes” - Kimmeridgian limestone with oyster traces “marne à huitre” - Limestone-clay - Siliceous clay - Alluvial deposit with sand and gravel.
The only grape variety planted by decree is the Sauvignon Blanc, locally named "Blanc Fumé" meaning smoky white. The name derives from the aromatic character of the grape as some wines show hints of smoky gunflint aromas on the nose, especially notable in wines grown on limestone soils with flintstones.
Most Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire have a life span of 2 to 5 years, but a Pouilly Fumé with an ideal terroir in an excellent vintage from a very good producer can be cellared for up to a decade. The Pouilly Fumé has a great aromatic complexity with its distinctive aromas of gooseberries, grapefruit and minerality from the “silex” flintstones. With their fresh and lively acidity it means that the wines can be cellared, a few producers have experimented with ageing exceptionally ripe vintages in oak. These wines are richer and take longer to show their best qualities. With time, they develop a remarkably fragrant complexity with hints of dessert wine aromas, the acidity will decrease and the colour will evolve into a deeper yellow. That said, the vast majority of Pouilly Fumé produced remain unoaked wines and are usually consumed within 3-5 years.
The climate here is too cold for later-ripening grapes such as the Chenin Blanc and Cabernets planted in other areas of the Loire. As Sauvignon Blanc buds late and ripens early, it is ideal for a region prone to severe frosts and harsh winds.