Domaine Carrette Is located in the village of Vergisson, pretty much at the foot of the famous rock of Solutré, which is in the heart of Pouilly-Fuisse. With a little less than fourteen hectares, eight of which are in Pouilly-Fuisse and three of which are in the neighboring St. Veran, this is a small, family-owned winery.
It began in 1980 when Henri Carrette, then a farmer-sharecropper, managed to buy the land. His son, Jean-Michel, built up the winery to its present size and still works manually in the vineyards though he is near retirement. His wife, Denise, works part time when needed. Henri (now eighty-four)and his wife still live next to the winery and, though of course retired, frequently welcome guests to taste the wines.
The estate is now run by Jean-Michel’s son, Hervé, and his oenologist wife, Natalie. He approaches wine making more or less as a farmer, working in the vineyards and in the cellar the old-fashioned way. Natalie works in the lab.Together they make technical decisions early in the morning, and then Natalie, who did her studies in Oenology and Agronomy at the National School of Agronomy of Montpellier, samples and analyzes in the evening after returning from her day job. (She consults for some fifty other wineries in Beaujolais, Burgundy and the Auvergne – a very busy winemaker!) It’s a fascinating combination with both a peasant farmer perspective as well as a highly sophisticated technical one.
In the early days, almost all the wine was sold in bulk. Henri began to bottle some of his wine in the ‘70s, before becoming owner of the Domain. But bottling only began seriously in 2008. That said, they have a large collection of all vintages going back to 1976.The Carrettes work very carefully in the vineyard and depending on weather conditions they prefer to protect their plants with organic products and use traditional plowing to improve air circulation. In the cellar a cold soak and soft press aim at bringing forth clear fruit aromas. Spontaneous fermentation on native yeast, primary as well as malo-lacitic add extra complexity to their wines. The wines then age on their lees and are bottled in spring for the fresher wines and late summer for the more characterful Le Crays and Les Mures.
Les Craysvineyard averages about 15 years old and is grown on very rocky limestone and clay soils. It is quite steep and south-facing. The altitude is fairly high in comparison with other vineyards in the area. Slow maturing is the rule. The wine is fermented in used barrels only, a mix of different coopers, including Radoux, Rousseau and Berthomieu.
The Saint Veran
Les Mures averages about 20 years old, and is grown on clay-limestone soil on steep, north facing slopes. This also insures good acid and slow maturation, though usually the wines are more open when young than theLes Crays. Like the Les Crays, fermentation is in the barrel, though only in the traditional and neutral large oak known as “foudre”.
Most importantly, these are wines of terroir, meant to express in the clearest terms the soil and culture of the area as well as the personalities of the wine makers.