Maconnais is Burgundy’s most exciting region – particularly for those who love drinking cool climate Chardonnay at a good price.
“Once upon a time Maconnais was regarded – Pouilly Fuisse excepted – as a source of mass-produced modest wine to be drunk as early as possible – but recently the region has become the most dynamic part of Burgundy with so many exciting wines…some classical, some avant-garde and almost all fairly priced”, agrees Jasper Morris MW, who wrote the award-winning book ‘Inside Burgundy’.
In the last few decades there has been an influx of knowledgeable Burgundy investors from famous appellations heading to Maconnais to reap its terroir potential. There is also a new generation of growers here intent on making complex barrel-fermented wines from lower yields than they used to work with.
Maconnais is warmer than its famous northern neighbours in the Cote d’Or producing riper fruits, but it can still produce fresh intense Chardonnays made with the same care and attention as those in Puligny Montrachet or Meursault who charge three times the price. Pictured above is Macon-Verze (vineyards of Domaine Leflaive)
We looked at a range of great value Chardonnays from Maconnais, from outside Pouilly Fuisse. This included the 84 Macon-Villages communes – of which now only 26 villages (like Bussieres or Lugny) can add the name of the commune after the world Macon on the label.
Our tasting also included St Veran appellation, which skirts around Pouilly Fuisse and can often be of greater interest than Macon Villages. It was named with a saint in the name as it was thought this would appeal more to consumers, back in the 1970s.
MACON-LUGNY 2020 Maison Collin Bourisset ***STAR VALUE***
Impressive bargain from Lidl’s recent French Wine Tour showing the juicy side of Lugny with enough creamy leesy intensity to make you think this is a £10 wine. Check out their equally juicy Macon Rouge made from Pinot Noir/Gamay by the same producer at the same price.
MACON-LA ROCHE VINEUSE 2020 Chateau de la Greffiere
The Greuzards, owners of Chateau de la Greffiere which began making wine back in 1585, are now in their fourth generation. Their top vineyard is in La Roche Vineuse village where they own 30-50 year old vines giving good intensity for the price. Grapefruit and mandarin flavours with more bite to the finish. Look out also for grower Olivier Merlin’s superb wines from this vineyard too.
MACON-CHARDONNAY ‘RESERVE’ 2020 Cave de Lugny ***STAR VALUE***
£9.99/£14.99 Majestic Wine
Made by the thriving cave-cooperative Cave de Lugny with grapes from Chardonnay village (the village came before the grape, with vines planted here since the end of first millennium). On the lighter side of unoaked Macon-Chardonnays, but very approachable citrus fruit, fresh vibrant with a delicate creamy palate.
MACON-VILLAGES 2020 Louis Jadot
£12.99/£14.99 Majestic Wine
Surprisingly, given its provenance, this was not one of the more popular wines in the tasting. Some felt it had unripe green apple flavours, taut acidity with a bitter twist to the finish, whilst others liked its zippiness and appealing freshness.
MACON-CRUZILLE 2016 Domaine de l’Echelette ***STAR BUY***
£15.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
Star bottle at our tasting. Delightful floral notes (almost Riesling-like) with honey, apricot and succulent citric fruit on the palate, superb length for the price. Made by the talented winemaker Guillaume Champliaud, whose father Michel began in Macon back in 1976, but only started bottling his own in 1990s. A great value mature example from a small estate (13 hectares) with wonderful old Chardonnay vines.
MACON-BUSSIERES MONT SARD 2020 Domaine de la Rochette
£14.95 The Wine Society
Winemaker Frederic Burrier of well-known Chateau de Beauregard in Pouilly Fuisse bought this small domaine which has very old vines in nearby Bussieres commune. Planted in the 1930s, 1940s and some in the 1980s, the Burrier’s 1.5 hectares in the shelter of Mont Sard makes intensely rich Chardonnays. Half was fermented in 350 litres, half in 228 litre barriques, but the oak is beautifully integrated – a rich intense Chardonnay with a peppery edge.
SAINT-VERAN LES CHATENAYS 2020 Domaine Carrette ***STAR BUY***
£17.95 Corney & Barrow
Very popular wine in our tasting with its beautifully balanced fruit and acidity. Appley nose, very juicy fruits with good intensity and length – this hails from a small vineyard known as the ‘chestnut grove’ managed organically by current generation Nathalie Carrette. Tasters loved its creamy texture from lees ageing, its freshness, spice and ripe citric fruits.
SAINT-VERAN LES CRECHES 2019 Domaine Saumaize Michelin
£22.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
From a leading biodynamic Maconnais growers Roger and Christine Saumaize-Michelin who bought this 1.08 ha plot in Davaye back in 2005. Now children son Vivien and daughter Lisa tend the 40-60 yrs old vines on limestone & clay soils, creating this creamy honeyed intense St Veran – showing beautiful maturity with a long lingering finish.
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