ack in 2000 Sophie Cinier took on the small family domaine in Fuissé. Her intention was just to work the vineyards and sell the grapes. But already in 2005 she began making her own wine.
– Initially it was a sentimental decision to take on the vineyards of my grandfather, she says. Then it became a real, personal decision. A passion, I would say.
Domaine Sophie Cinier is small, just 2.33 hectares. All vineyards are around Fuissé, which is a 15-minute drive from Mâcon. In addition to the vineyards Sophie Cinier also runs a small négociant business, buying grapes from Mâconnais appellations she doesn’t have herself.
– I don’t have any brothers or sisters, Sophie Cinier continues. My mother really wanted to take back the family domaine, but she was not able to do it herself. So that left me… I figured I would give it a go. I love wine and at the time I was working in sales in the wine business.
– After five years I had had the chance to taste a lot. I had worked for other growers and I knew my vines very well. So in the end I felt I wanted to make my own wine, not just grow the grapes. My first cuvée was just 1200 bottles. That was all.
The first two years the wine was made in the cellar of Sophie Cinier’s parents. Eventually she had a cuverie built and today the annual production is 21 000 bottles. The Saint-Véran, the Viré-Clessé and the Bourgogne blanc are from bought in grapes.
– The Saint-Véran comes from a lieu-dit in Chasselas called À la Côte (on the slope), but despite the name the vineyard is completely flat. I buy the grapes, but I’m the one who sets the harvest date. It is a very cool and windy place. I’m very fond of the appellation Saint-Véran, but when I started out I couldn’t find a single parcel to buy or rent.
– My idea for the Saint-Véran is to make a wine that goes well with food, not, as is often the case, a wine that is meant to be an aperitif, a wine that has a relatively short élevage in tank. I make my Saint-Véran in barrels. Like my Pouilly-Fuissé it stays one year in barrel. The barrels are between five and ten years old. The harvest is done by hand and I use whole bunches.
From the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation Sophie Cinier produces three different cuvées – Classique, Collection and Vers Crâs. The first two are young and old vines respectively, while Vers Crâs comes from a single parcel of the same name just northeast of the village.
– It was in 2013, a year with a very small crop, that I started thinking about separating parcels for two different cuvées. I was already bottling Vers Crâs separately, so for the remaining parcels I decided to separate the older vines from the younger. The younger vines at the bottom of the slope are used for the Classique cuvée. Higher up I have older vines for the Collection cuvée. The old vines are Riparia rootstocks. The grapes are always very small.
The Pouilly-Fuissé, Vers Crâs, is a wine coming from 80-year-old vines. Sophie Cinier calls the lieu-dit Vers Crâs a magic plateau with a lot of limestone. The soil is white and according to her the same notes of ripe fruit, of dried apricots, figs and quinces, are present in every vintage.
– Vers Crâs stays in barrel for 18 to 24 months, depending on the vintage, she says. The Pouilly-Fuissé, Collection stays in barrel for 16 months.
– I am convinced that Pouilly-Fuissé is a wine which benefits from aging. That is of course if the vinification supports it. A short vinification like six months in tank makes it less suitable, but otherwise you can keep it for five to ten years, sometimes even longer, depending on the vintage.
Next to the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation is the considerably smaller Pouilly-Vinzelles. While the former covers 761 hectares, the latter just covers 43 hectares and Sophie Cinier’s holdings there are tiny. The parcel that produces her Pouilly-Vinzelles, Les Longeays is just 0.13 ha.
– In a good year we make between 600 and 700 bottles, says Sophie Cinier. The vines were planted in 1905. Obviously not all vines have survived over the years. Some have been replanted. The parcel is mid-slope, facing east. There is clay and some limestone. The soil is very deep, more than two metres. The elevage is 18 to 24 months in barrels and I use between 15 and 20 per cent of new oak.
In the Mâconnais four of the five village appellations are located around Mâcon. The fifth, Viré-Clessé, is half an hour's drive further to the north. In 2014 Sophie Cinier started buying grapes from this appellation, but for practical reasons she then changed to buying must. It turned out that the distance was too much for the grapes and they began to oxidize.
– I get my grapes from a parcel just north of Clessé. It’s the same kind of soil as in Vers Crâs. White, very stony soil. The vines are 30 years old. Almost all of the Viré-Clessé appellation facing out towards the plains. The altitude is not the same. In Viré-Clessé it is between 200 and 300 metres. Down here we are around 400 metres. Viré-Clessé is close to the Saône, which means they have fog in the morning and then sun during the day. The soil is only slightly different. The limestone is younger.
© 2016 Ola Bergman