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Domaine Ponsot

An Iconoclastic Morey-Saint-Denis Domaine

This iconoclastic Morey-Saint-Denis Domaine is dripping with history. Estate bottling commenced here in the 1930s as it did at other historic Domaine’s like Henri Gouges, Lafarge and Rousseau. Clonal selection in Burgundy also began here—Jean-Marie Ponsot provided the mother plants from his ancient Clos de la Roche vines for the first approved Burgundy clones. Today, Domaine Ponsot remains Burgundy’s most avant-garde estate, all the while crafting Burgundies of beguiling purity from many of the grandest terroirs of the Côte. 

Iconoclast Laurent Ponsot left Domaine Ponsot to start his own negociant business in 2016.  Laurent’s sister, Rose-Marie Ponsot (co-director of the Domaine since 1997) is now in charge, assisted by her nephew William and manager Alexandre Abel. Cellar-master Laurent Desgouttes has also joined the ranks. What has changed since Laurent’s departure? A few things, but nothing truly fundamental. The Domaine’s long-standing vineyard manager of 35 years, Denis Remondet, remains in his role and continues to work to ever higher standards, with meticulous attention to detail paid to the vines. The Domaine employs seven full-time workers for seven hectares of vineyard (which tells you all you need to know). It’s the same harvesting policy—only fully ripe fruit with strict selection in the vineyards. It’s the same gravity-fed cellar with its huge, wooden fermenters and zero new oak—unique in the Côte de Nuits—is still the rule. 

The stunning wines of recent vintage signify another notch in the belt of this iconic Domaine under the guidance of Rose-Marie Ponsot and manager Alexandre Abel. To borrow a sentiment from Tim Atkin MW, “Domaine Ponsot is flourishing under the new régime.”

None of this is to say Domaine Ponsot has been stuck in a time warp. The Estate has a terrific, modern cellar and enthusiastically uses the latest technology where it aids quality. Hydraulic basket presses, temperature control in the wooden fermenters, a state-of-the-art bottling line and the use of ArdeaSeal closures make this clear. Most recently, every hectare of the Domaine’s vines are now managed organically (the steepest sites in Monts Luisants have always been the challenge here) and horses have reappeared in the vineyards. In the cellar, there’s a new destemmer, there is no longer any pumping at harvest time, and the white grapes are not crushed before pressing. Nothing could be more natural than for a great producer to continue to evolve in this way, all in the name of ever-greater quality and consistency.

No article on this Domaine would be complete without reference to two unique wines. Domaine Ponsot is the largest landowner in Clos de la Roche, with some of the oldest vines—averaging approximately 60 years of age—and mostly situated within the historic Clos itself. Clos de la Roche was expanded in the 1950s to include a range of neighbouring sites (Les Fremières, Les Genevrières, Les Mochamps, Monts Luisants, etc.) which surround the original vineyard. As you might expect, the original terroir makes different wines compared to the surrounding sites now included in the Grand Cru. Domaine Ponsot owns almost three hectares of the original 4.5-hectare Clos which is widely considered to be the finest part of the Clos de la Roche. The rest of Ponsot’s holdings are within the Monts Luisants lieu-dit, which are said to add freshness to the power of the original Clos fruit. Terroir aside, this wine is clearly the reference point for the AOC. To us, it is not only Ponsot’s grandest wine but also one of the greatest red wines in Burgundy. 

Then, there is Clos des Monts Luisants, a very special, age-worthy 1er Cru that is unique on several levels. Not only is it a monopole, but it is also the only 1er Cru for white in Morey-Saint-Denis and the only 1er Cru that is 100% (old vine) Aligoté in Burgundy. At different times in this vineyard’s history, there have been small quantities of Chardonnay and ‘Pinot Gouges’ (a white mutation from Pinot Noir) in the blend. Yet from 2006, it returned to its pre-1930s origins of 100% Aligoté from an ancient, mostly bush vine selection planted in 1911. There is a good reason for this ─ Aligoté has always produced outstanding wine here, better than anything the Ponsot clan could muster from Chardonnay. It seems that this high-altitude, rocky site seems to have a natural affinity with Aligoté. Once upon a time, there would probably have been many other vineyards across the Côte about which we could have said the same. Today the wine commemorates its ancient Aligoté vines on the label with the Très Vieilles Vignes designation (only given by the Domaine to vineyards that are over 100 years old). This is a wine of incredible depth, racy, mineral energy, pulpy texture and longevity.

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From Vine to Wine by Rose-Marie Ponsot

From Vine to Wine by Rose-Marie Ponsot

Written by historian Guillaume Grillon and Rose-Marie Ponsot and with an intro by William Kelley, From Vine to Wine is a captivating read for all Burgundy lovers—it not only covers the history of the domaine but uses that history to explore the evolution of Burgundy over the last 150 years. It is packed with surprises and insights.Domaine Ponsot on its own has such a remarkable and distinctive history. It was one of the pioneers of estate bottling (starting in the 1930s with other historic domaines like Gouges, Lafarge and Rousseau). Jean-Marie Ponsot selected many of the great Pinot clones we still use today (often called Dijon clones) from his ancient Clos de la Roche vines. The Ponsots were intimately involved with the establishment of the appellation laws in the ‘30s, have been the longest and arguably most important advocates of the Aligoté grape (they still produce the only 1er Cru Aligoté on the Côte) and were the earliest to move away from the use of new oak. Even today, Domaine Ponsot remains one of Burgundy’s most idiosyncratic and innovative estates. The story of the domaine is therefore packed with intrigue and surprising insights into the story of Burgundy.  

From Vine to Wine by Rose-Marie Ponsot
Domaine Ponsot Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Vieilles Vignes Blanc 2020

Domaine Ponsot Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Vieilles Vignes Blanc 2020

Bill Nanson says this is the “standard-bearer of the iconoclasm of the domaine”, and he is right on the money. It’s a remarkable and ageworthy 1er Cru that is unique on several levels. Not only is it a monopole, but this was, for a long time, the only 1er Cru white in Morey-Saint-Denis (Dujac now also makes a white Monts Luisants, but not from the clos). It also remains the only 1er Cru in all of Burgundy that is 100% Aligoté (and ancient Aligoté at that). At different times in this vineyard’s history, there have been small quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Gouges (a white mutation of Pinot Noir—a sort of Pinot Blanc, if you like) in the blend. But from 2004, it returned to its origins of 100% Aligoté, mainly from a selection of vines planted in 1911. Today, the wine commemorates these ancient plants with the Vieilles Vignes designation. Since 2015, a parcel of younger-vine fruit makes up 20% of the blend and has lowered the average age to around 90 years.The grapes are pressed in Ponsot’s pneumatic press, fermented in tank and barrel, and then aged in neutral oak (all barriques between 10 and 60 years old). The 2020 is a truly great vintage of this wine: textured, layered and yet with stunning mineral freshness and drive. Terrific saline length! Simply a great white Burgundy and great wine of place—we defy anyone to pick the variety blind.

“The historic portion of this vineyard - 80% - was planted with Aligoté in 1911. Since the younger vines achieved a quality level worthy of the Premier Cru status, the "Très" has been removed from the "Vieilles Vignes" on the front label. That's admirably honest since such a substantial portion of the wine still is from century-year-old vines. The wine is bright and focused on the lemon-lime scented nose. Lovely and layered flavors of pear, honeydew melon, pluot and grated spices give the lightly creamy palate a compelling moreish-ness. Minerally and lifted, this is already irresistible.”
95 points, Christine Canterbury, Tim Atkin Burgundy Special Report
“80% comes from the famous 1911 planting. This has an excellent bouquet, the age of the vines is disguising anything vegetal in the Aligoté. Superb purity and density across the palate, a tingling limestone freshness at the back and excellent persistence. Nothing blocky about this, a good year for Monts Luisants. A touch of almond paste at the finish.”
92-95 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“Aromas of citrus oil, confit lemon and freshly baked bread introduce the 2020 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Blanc, a medium to full-bodied, taut and inactive wine that's racy and concentrated, concluding with a long, mineral finish.”
92-94 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Ponsot Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Vieilles Vignes Blanc 2020
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“The results are as distinctive as the methods, but also profoundly impressive and proven to age magnificently… it is amazing how phenomenal Ponsot's wines can be.” Robert Parker

“Domaine Ponsot is flourishing under the new régime.” Tim Atkin MW

“Ponsot’s wines are amongst the Côte’s finest… Truly a five-star domaine.” Remington Norman, The Great Domaines of Burgundy

“One of the most distinguished domaines of the Côte de Nuits.” Anthony Hanson, Burgundy [Mitchell Beazley]



Primary Region

Côte de Nuits


Winemaker: Alexandre Abel



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