Last month our French Winophiles group embarked on a delicious and educational journey. With L.M. Archer of BinNotes redThread™ at the helm, we explored Chablis and Côte d’Or. This month we are moving to southern Burgundy to examine Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, and Beaujolais. I have zeroed in on Mâconnais with a fun survey of Mâcon Villages versus Pouilly-Fuissé. Please join me as these two sub-regions go toe to toe in what promises to be a delicious competition.
Mâconnais is the southernmost terroir of the Bourgogne wine region. It is here that Chardonnay reigns supreme, representing 80% of all vines planted here. Because Mâconnais is the furthest south it is also the warmest region of Bourgogne; therefore, the Chardonnay produced here has different characteristics from Chablis and Côtes d’Or. Again going back to my WSET Level 2 education I learned Chardonnay produced in Mâconnais is typically light, fruity with notes of melon and citrus. Appellation Régionales are commonly crafted with little or no oak and sold under the name Mâcon or Mâcon Villages. Mâconnais is comprised of five appellation villages. One such village that I will be featuring today is Pouilly-Fuissé, located in the far south end of Mâconnais, where full bodied Chardonnay with notes of tropical fruit (pineapple, melon) and oak flavors are produced.
To see the beautiful region of Mâconnais for yourself, watch this short video produced by Vins de Bourgogne.
In a 2015, article titled Pouilly-Fuissés With An Identity Crisis, New York Times wine expert Eric Asminov, along with Florence Fabricant, explain how the last 20 years of wine production have been exciting for Mâconnais. In fact, top producers from the more expensive and highly sought after Côte d’Or have been purchasing vineyards in Mâconnais in order to produce beautiful white burgundies at lower prices. Though the soil is the same as Côte d’Or the warmer climate requires a higher level of skill in the vineyard and winemaking process; however, when such skill is applied the resulting wine is lovely. They add this possibility is especially true in the cluster of communes that comprise Pouilly-Fuissé. The reputation of Pouilly-Fuissé suffered in the 1980’s and 90’s; however, as we entered a new century distinguished Côte d’Or producers demonstrated the terroir of Pouilly-Fuissé could indeed shine. With the prices of white burgundies from the prestigious Côte d’Or continuing to climb, those who seek the glory of white burgundy on a budget are turning more and more to Mâconnais, and specifically Pouilly-Fuissé.
I have been a fan of Pouilly-Fuissé for several years, but admittedly know little about Mâcon Villages. When I headed to my local wine retailer to purchase a Pouilly-Fuissé for this article I came across an unfamiliar producers who had both a Pouilly-Fuissé and a Mâcon Villages wines. Therefore, I thought what better way to learn the similarities and the differences then trying these two wines from the same producer.
Maison Francois Labet is a negociant for small domaines and chateaux in Burgundy and also produces a range of AOC wines from Burgundy and Rhone under its own label. Francois Labet views differ from some on winemaking and has two separate “hats” – one Chateau de La Tour Clos Vougeot and the other Domaine Pierre & Francois Labet based mostly around Beaune where he also directs the winegrowing and commercial activities of his family’s property. Francois has been organic since 1992 and has started to encourage the growth of natural grasses between the vines to compete with the vines.
2014 Francios Labet Dame Alix Mâcon Villages Mâconnais Burgundy France ($14.99): pale lemon in the glass; medium- aromas of apples, pineapple, lemon curd, crushed stone, and nutmeg; zesty on the palate with medium acidity in a silky mouth-feel that is refreshing but not creamy, medium tart lemon finish; not a complex wine but delightful and one of the better sub $20 Chardonnays I have tasted; perfect for weeknight white Burgundy enjoyment.
2012 Francios Labet Pouilly-Fuissé Mâconnais Burgundy France ($27.99): medium- lemon in the glass; medium aromas of ripe apples, stone fruit, lemon zest, pineapple, flint, toasted bread, and cedar; refreshing and elegant, bright medium+ acidity with more complexity in mouth-feel and layers of flavors than the Mâcon Villages, more evidence of oak treatment yet beautifully integrated, judiciously, much more mineral driven wine with a long, lemon cedar finish; evident of increase in quality, a lovely wine that I would gladly enjoy regularly.
I chose to pair these wines with two light summer dishes. Fresh Pea, Prosciutto, and Herb Salad was crisp and refreshing, a lovely accompaniment to Basil-Ricotta Ravioli with Spinach. Overall it was a wonderfully light and delicious weeknight meal. Both wines paired very well with the meal. I believe it comes down to price. The Mâcon Villages is a lovely selection that is simple and easy to drink. The Pouilly-Fuissé adds depth of flavors, textures and elegance yet it comes with an increase price. You will be pleased trying either of these two wines.
Take a moment to see what discoveries my fellow #Winophiles have found in southern Bourgognes:
Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick serves up “Salmon and Morels with the Domaine Wines of Louis Max.”
Jill Barth of L’Occasion shares “Historic Vineyards of Burgundy.”
Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Wine Predator takes on: “Bourgogne with Beef Bourguignon from an Instant Pot.”
Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest steers us through “Navigating Southern Burgundy: Mâconnaise and Beaujolais.”
Camilla Mann of Culinary Adventures with Cam tipples through “Touring Burgundy by Glass: It’s the End of the School Year and I Need a Drink!”
Jane Niemeyer of Always Ravenous explores “Discovering Rully Chardonnay + Bouzeron Aligoté in Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise.”
Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table schools us with “Cooking to the Wine: Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis with Clam and Burrata Pizza.”
Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm dips her toe in “Provence meets Burgundy.”
Lauren Walsh of The Swirling Dervish swirls up “Mercurey Rising: Pinot Noir from Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise.”
L.M. Archer of binnotes.com pours forth on “Burgundy’s Overlooked ‘Other’ White Wine.”
Please join us this morning on Twitter at 10CST using #Winophiles to share you love of Bourgognes or just to learn more like me.
My Song Selection: I recently saw the Lumineers in concert open for U2. I was so impressed. Fun, talented, and a lot of bang for the buck!
Get your own bottle of Bourgognes from Mâconnais and/or Pouilly-Fuissé and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!