by Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 18 July 2015

The best place to look for good value Chardonnay in Burgundy these days is to head to the lesser known valleys and smaller growers, away from the famous villages of the Cote d’Or golden slopes.

Our tasters sampled 25 different white Burgundies priced under £20 from northern Chablis outpost, lesser known appellations in the Cote d’Or down to Rully, Montagny and Mercurey in the Cote Chalonnaise and St Veran, Macon Villages and Pouilly Fuisse in the southern Maconnais.  Some tasters preferred the higher acidity and sleek freshness of Chablis for a summer white, but many of our top ten scorers tended to come from the southern villages of Maconnais where the Chardonnays tends to be riper and more forward.  

Here are our highest scoring bottles:

Chablis: CHABLIS 2014 Jules Billaud (£16.75 Oddbins)
Alcohol 12.5%

Most popular of the five Chablis in our taste test.  For those looking for a classic unoaked style, this is made by Samuel Billaud who worked for over 20 years at Domaine Billaud-Simon and has now created his own new brand, named after his eldest son Jules.  Nine months on the lees, no oak, just pure unadulterated citric fruits with a minerally glide to the finish.  An Oddbins exclusive – great stuff.

Chablis: CHABLIS ‘SAINT MARTIN’ 2013 Domaine Laroche (£19.99 Aitken Wines, Dundee; Fine Wine Company; Fountainhall Wines; Henderson Wines in Edinburgh; Lockett Bros, N Berwick; The Beerhive)
Alcohol 12.5%

The second highest scoring Chablis (out of five tasted), this is another classic which ticks all the boxes you expect from this famous appellation.  Elegant, sleek, zippy, citric and well-made – but just slightly too high in price in my book.

Cote d’Or: BOURGOGNE 2012 Domaine Matrot 2012 (£15.99 bt or £14.39 in mixed 12 bt case
Alcohol 12.5%

A very popular bottle of Bourgogne Chardonnay at our tasting – made by Thierry & Pascal Matrot.  Tasters loved the mix of lime flavours, citric core, rich creaminess and fresh minerality on the finish.  Very traditional labelling, but with a classy modern good quality yellow screwcap.   Well priced too – snap this one up before it all goes.                

Cote d’Or: LE BARRIQUE DE BOURGOGNE 2013 Maison Badet Clement (£17.99 bt or £16.19 in mixed 12 bt case
Alcohol 12.5%

Sylvain Colson, cellarmaster at Maison Badet Clement in Nuits St Georges has crafter this blend from barrels he found in the cellars of four different growers in the Cote d’Or – creating this 9,000 bottle blend comes from various top villages.  Ripe apricot with a mineral freshness, attractively made – a close second in our tasting run up.

Cote d’Or: BOURGOGNE BLANC LES SETILLES 2013 Olivier Leflaive (£16.95 Vino Wines, Edinburgh)
Alcohol 12.5%

A benchmark white Burgundy made from a blend of grapes from Meursault and Puligny Montrachet, by the indefatigable micro-negociant Olivier Leflaive.  His cellars are based just off the village square in Puligny Montrachet (his restaurant and hotel run by his daughter are in the centre), so well worth a visit if you happen to passing and in need of a good lunch.  Les Setilles is his flagship house wine. White blossom and citric fruits with underlying vanilla notes, it has creaminess and depth but enough crisp minerality to serve as an aperitif. 

Cote Chalonnaise: MONTAGNY 1ER CRU LES LOGES VIEILLES VIGNES 2011 (£13.95 or £167.40 for 12 bts
Alcohol 13%

A very appealing mature white Burgundy crafted by talented British winemaker, Emma Sarjeant, this is a classic style and perfect for drinking now.  Made from the oldest section in Les Loges vineyard where vines are a minimum of 25 years old.  Our tasters enjoyed its nutty maturity and sleek elegance – and a good price for such a mature wine.

Cote Chalonnaise: MERCUREY BLANC 2012 Château de Santenay (£18.99 The Cave Glasgow; Fine Wine Company, Edinburgh; Markinch Wine Gallery, Fife)
Alcohol 13%

A high scorer in our tasting with a lovely core of fruit, depth of concentration and a rich marzipan flavour on the mid-palate.  Sleeker, drier and more elegant than many of the riper Maconnais wines in our tasting, this shows off one of Chalonnaise’s top villages very well.

Maconnais: EXHIBITION POUILLY FUISSE 2013 (£17.50 The Wine Society
Alcohol 13% 

A superb example of a gorgeously ripe Pouilly Fuisse beautifully crafted by one of Maconnais’ current stars.  The old renowned Chateau Beauregard is run by the enterprising Frederic-Marc Burrier, the 6th generation to run the chateau.  He worked for Louis Jadot until 1999 and returned to his family business where he runs 43 hectares – 22 of which are in Pouilly Fuisse split between the three villages of Fuisse, Solutre-Pouilly and Vergisson – and he makes no less than twelve different Pouilly Fuisses many in a very rich intense forward style.  He is currently leading the commission to establish Premier Crus in Pouilly Fuisse – so watch this space.  STAR BUY

Maconnais: SAINT VERAN CLOS LE VESSATS 2013 Domaine Guerrin (£12.50 Oddbins)
Alcohol 13%           

Another very high scorer in our tasting.  Maurice Guerrin own 35 different plots between Solutre and Vergisson just west of Macon – and this is from one of those plots, a two hectare limestone and clay site called Clos Vessats.  Our tasters commented on its fabulous peachy ripe fruits and its overall balance from start to finish.  I personally loved its characterful nutty flavours and well-balanced gentle oak from 11 months in bottle which would match well with grilled trout and almonds.  Enjoy!  STAR BUY                                

Maconnais: MACON-IGE CHATEAU LONDON 2013 Jean-Claude Boisset (£19.99 Aitken Wines, Dundee; Harrisons Fine Wines, Crieff;  Lockett Bros, N Berwick; Peckhams, Glasgow)
Alcohol 12.5%

This comes from one of Macon’s best little villages – Ige – from the reputable winemaker Gregory Patriat of the JC Boisset cellar.  Patriat, who spent years working for Domaine Leroy, now specializes at Boisset in small named plots (lieu dit) like this one.  Leesy yeasty nose with very upfront lemon and grapefruit on the palate with a hint of vanilla, but the finish was not as impressive as the other Maconnais in the tasting.

Maconnais: MACON-PERONNE VIEILLES VIGNES 2014 Domaine du Bicheron (£10.95 bt; £131.40 for 12 bts case  Alcohol 13.5%

A rather fine old-vine white Burgundy made by the Rousset family in Péronne, a neighbouring commune to Pouilly-Fuissé in southern Maconnais.  This family have been making wine here since 1889 so have plenty of experience.  Pretty classic rich nectarine and peach fruits, well-balanced and complex white Burgundy at a very attractive price.

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