Here is a truly thrilling new producer of hand-crafted Chablis, designed to showcase the individuality of different terroirs, not just at premier (and one grand) cru level, but within that very substantial area devoted to AC Chablis. – – Jancis Robinson website, October 4, 2010
“the only thing truly original in the world of wine is the underlying terroir and I have nothing else interesting to add. Anyone can copy anyone else’s techniques so what else is there to make great wines? I believe the answer is simple: Terroir. I want to work only with the fruit from old vines and even then, only old vines that are planted exclusively within the original boundaries of Chablis. If I respect these things, it will be almost impossible to make bad wine.” – Patrick Piuze
After running a wine bar in Montreal for two years, Patrick Piuze moved to Burgundy in 2000 and for his first autumn there he spent the harvest with Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet. Shortly after, Piuze was entrusted with the vinification of Laflaive’s new Chablis project and Patrick spent four years there honing his skills as a winemaker. Next, he spent a year at Verget with Jean-Marie Guffens where he developed a passion for exploring the distinct terroirs of Chablis. At this point in his career, he was earning recognition for the high quality wines he was making and after just a year at Verget, Jean-Marc Brocard recruited him to be cellar master and head wine maker. During this period, Piuze realized there was much more he was capable of achieving and made the most important decision of his life: to set out on his own and bottle under his own name. Not one to ease into things slowly, his first vintage in 2008 consisted of 20 different bottlings, all Chablis except for one.
Piuze purchases all his fruit (never must or juice) and focuses on sourcing grapes from old-vines situated in prime locations. Interestingly, these vineyards are available because their location on the slopes makes them more difficult to work and impossible to machine harvest. This suits Piuze since he chooses to harvest every vineyard by hand anyway, even at the Petit Chablis and Village level! He has long-term contracts with his growers and only works with producers who are practicing sustainable viticulture. He has his own wine-making facility where he uses temperature controlled steel tanks and only used barrels for the fermentation and élevage – no new oak here. The approach in the cellar is hands-off; indigenous yeasts are used and nothing is added nor taken away. Piuze believes that Chardonnay is perfect for showcasing the expression of the various terroirs of Chablis, and each of his many bottlings captures a distinctive facet of the region.
Patrick Piuze is obsessed with drawing out the essence of terroir and every bottle is very specific, highlighting the parcels that the wines come from. Although he bottles Bougros he breaks it down even further singling out the .12 hectares of Bougros “Cote de Bouqueyreaux”; same with Vaillons and the .29 hectares of Vaillons “les Minots”. Even his entry-level wines, where most producers would blend plots together, he bottles five separate “Terroir” cuvees at the Villages level, each labeled with the name of the village of origin.
Despite doing nearly all the work himself, Piuze seems to have limitless energy and drive. He seems to be in a constant state of excitement and his incredible wines echo his liveliness and sincerity. Though his first vintage was just in 2008, Piuze already has the makings of a legendary producer.