CHÂTEAU DES RONTETS, FuissÉ
Fabio Montrasi and Claire Gazeau were successful architects living and working in Italy when the latter’s uncle, the owner of the Château des Rontets and its surrounding vineyard, passed away in the mid-1990s. After careful deliberation, the couple decided to bid farewell to their careers, move to Rontets in the Mâcon and learn how to make wine. Fabio reports that they learned more by their early mistakes than by their expedited formal winemaking courses and twenty years later they’re crafting some of southern Burgundy’s most exciting and idiosyncratic wine.
The name Rontets refers to the 5.5-hectare lieu-dit as well as to the estate itself, the vineyard enjoying an altitude of 350 meters and sloping, ever so gently, towards the north. Not only does this offer an absolutely breathtaking view of Fuissé, it also makes for a unique and benign mesoclimate for the slow, balanced and even precarious ripening of Chardonnay grapes. Claire asserts that the vines literally suck the minerality out of the Jurassic limestone below the thin, silt topsoil – science disputes this possibility but enjoying a glass of the tense, saline wine that they produce compels one to challenge the scientists to come up with a better explanation…
All of the “young-vine” fruit (and to Fabio and Claire this is anything planted post-1945!) from the organically-farmed Rontets vineyard goes into the workhorse cuvée called Clos Varambon – Claire’s grandfather’s name – and an old-vine bottling known as Les Birbettes is sourced from four specific plots, two of which were planted in the 1920s and the others in 1945. A third cuvée called Pierrefolle is from a plot half-a-kilometer south of Rontets and is slightly broader and fleshier than its siblings. Lastly, Château des Rontets recently added their first red wine to the lineup in the form of a Saint-Amour from the Côte de Besset vineyard. Early results are exciting to say the least.
Great wine is great wine, and the liquid provender of Château des Rontets is amongst the most exciting that we’ve tasted from this part of the world. But what makes it even better is the fact that Claire and Fabio are two of the kindest and most hospitable people that we have the pleasure of doing business with.
We are honoured to be Western Canada’s only source for these special wines.