Formerly known by its Latin name - Villa Ponciago - Château de Poncié has more recently reverted to its French name - a move which underpins the credentials of this famous wine estate and its association with the Fleurie region.In 1949, the owner of the Château de Poncié, then called by its Latin name Villa Ponciago, donated his vineyard to the Abbey of Cluny, with the hope of saving his soul. An ancient map bears witness to the diversity of the domain. Its 46 hectares of vines, boasting no fewer than 40 distinct terroirs, surround the 18th Century castle and its winery which express Fleurie’s many nuances. The hope and aspiration of those at Poncié has been to reflect the quintessential character of the Fleurie Cru which produces wines that are authentic, rich and subtle. Château de Poncié is comprised of 120 hectares of land, of which only 46 hectares that have the ability to fully express the unique character of the estates terroir are under vine. They include Brirette, Haut du Py, Muriers, Carcans, Montgenas, Poncié, Le Pré Roi and La Salomine. Each of these vineyards produce distinctive ‘parcels’ which benefit from the range of conditions that exist across the estate. From the top to the bottom of the slopes, each bunch of grapes benefits from its altitude, the sun and the wind. The rainwater runs off forcing the plant to dig deep into the soil. It is this diversity which is the force behind Château de Poncié and is its biggest asset. The rest of the land, a combination of fields and woodland, with 100-year-old cedars, shape the landscape, preserving its biodiversity.
The extraordinary variety of terroirs means Poncié has to carry-out ‘haute couture’ style work, adopting a meticulous approach for each and every vineyard
To allow the terroir to express itself, each parcel receives ‘tailor-made’ care, where the yields are naturally reduced. This often involves replacing whole parcels; six hectares of old gobelet (free standing) vines were pulled up and replaced with young, wire-trained vines, enabling the bunches of grapes to ripen better. At Château de Poncié, the traditional “en gobelet” method of pruning has progressively given way to wire training, using the cordon method. Each parcel of vines is trained according to its needs. Grass cover, tilling the soil and sustainable viticultural methods are now being favoured to restore life to the various terroirs.
The yields never go over 45hl/ha, and are sometimes as low as 25hl/ha for certain parcels, in order to obtain finesse, elegance and well-ripened grapes. Around 60 grape-pickers come to the domain each year to hand-pick the small bunches of fully ripened Gamay grapes. The winemaking teams refuse to use easier methods which would rush the process, preferring to use unhurried techniques which allow the characteristics of the terroir to come through. Methods such as cold maceration and long fermentation periods help to produce more subtle aromas, and ageing in used oak barrels helps integrate the tannins and delicately brings out the silky character of the wines.