I tasted this wine for the very first time on the 31st of January and it moved me so much that I wanted to write it up on the spot. It was clear to me that this bottle was a once in a lifetime Sauvignon Blanc experience. I was told I couldn’t review it because it was a preview sample and it was not due into the UK until later in the year. Since first tasting this wine I have been playing a game of trying to think of a finer wine made from this oft-derided and seemingly out-of-fashion-with-the-cognoscenti grape. From the hundreds of labels made by the acknowledged Sauvignon Blanc masters of the universe, I cannot think of a single wine which combines all of the epic SB attributes in one single wine. Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux, Haut Brion Blanc (ok, this has Semillon on board), Gembrook Hill, early Cloudy Bays, countless Chavignols from Cotat, Redde’s own wines, Cantine Terlano, Colterenzio, Reverdy, Spottswoode, Casa Marín, Dagueneau, Dog Point, Jackson Estate, The Berrio, Iona, Viña Leyda, Dry Creek Vineyards, Larry Cherubino’s epic 2017, The Lane Vineyard’s Gathering (again with Semillon loitering with intent), Shaw Smith, Cape Point Vineyards, Duckhorn, Greywacke, Boulay, Pellé and on and on, are all fantastic Sauvignons, but they are not as complete nor as enchanting as 2017 Barre à Mine. We can all circumnavigate the globe and pick any one of a hundred talented Sauvignon Blanc wizards’ creations and while their wines are undoubtedly delicious, impactful and worthy of admiration, I cannot remember a bottle which has the cosmic balance or the inescapable magic that this one does. I tasted it again last night and came to the conclusion that this is a wine which cannot be improved so, while I never thought that this day would come, I am overjoyed to give a Sauvignon Blanc a perfect 20/20 in my tasting notes. Barre à Mine translates as ‘Crowbar’. Never has such a blunt instrument inspired such an exquisite flavour.
The Redde family can trace their roots in Pouilly Fumé’s vinous history back to 1630. In the mid-20th century Michel Redde created the domaine ‘La Moynerie’, and his grandsons now oversee the impressive gravity cellar which produces an astonishing array of single vineyard cuvées from the flint and limestone soils around Pouilly-sur-Loire, on the banks of the Cher River facing across to Sancerre. The winemaking is steered by the energetic Sébastien Redde, who takes great pride in all his wines, from the simple pleasures of the Petit Fumé (a young vine cuvée) up to the majesty of ‘Marjorum’ which can age beautifully over 20 years. These are Sauvignon Blancs of really dynamic expression.
At the southern tip of the Mâconnais lies Pouilly Fuisse - one of a group of five villages amid rolling limestone hills producing the most serious white wines in the area. At their best this is serious Chardonnay indeed, golden, rich and ripe. There is no hierarchy of wines in Pouilly Fuisse, but the appellation name may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard.