Buying wine is like buying chocolate. They both have a world of flavors and attributes to consider.
Do you want fruity or deeper earthy tastes? Belgian? Dark or milk? 85%? Then you navigate labels- Costa Rican, single origin, fair trade? You decide on a bar but see local producers as you head to check out. So many choices.
The same holds true for wine; consumers have a plethora of decisions to make. There’s white, red, rosé, sparkling. Dry or sweet, lighter or full-bodied? Maybe French or perhaps something from South America? Then you get to region, as well as organic, and on and on.
These two aroma wheels have a lot in common!
The French #Winophiles continue our journey through Burgundy, focusing on the southern areas of Côte de Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, and Beaujolais. I’m proud to be part of this talented group (list below) where we share insights and knowledge from a variety of angles: area information, wine characteristics, producers, wine pairings, and more. I hope all of our information helps you navigate these southern Burgundy area so you can pick the right bottle!
Believe it or not, it’s difficult to find certain wines in Bordeaux, France where I live. But my perseverance uncovered two wines: a Mâconnaise and a Beaujolais, both found in the southern part of Burgundy.
The Mâconnaise is on the verge of rediscovery and for those who like Burgundian Chardonnay but cringe at the cost, the Mâconnaise is your spot! Chardonnay here is fruity, often with Acacia blossoms and peach, and succulent with a certain minerality. And these good-value, quality wines are easy to pair with food.
Facts About the Mâconnaise
- Largest vineyard area in Burgundy
- 85% of the planted grapes are Chardonnay
- Other grapes are Aligote, Pinot Noir, and Gamay
- Rosé and velvety reds are also produced
- Pouilly-Fuissé is the flagship wine and Mâcon is the namesake village
- Abundant sunshine! Generally warmer weather = riper grapes
There are three regional AOCs (Mâcon, Mâcon-Villages, and Mâcon+given village name), and three communal AOCs (Pouilly-Fuissé [including Pouilly-Vinzelles and Pouilly-Loché], Saint-Véran, and Viré-Clessé)
My Mâconnaise pick:
Sébastien took over the winery after his father became ill from pesticides use in the vineyards. His approach is simple, biodynamic viticulture with very low yields. Chardonnay and Pinot are grown on Limestone, while Gamay on Granite.
Delphine and Sébastien are members of “Artisans Vignerons de Bourgogne de Sud”, a group focusing on small-scale, crafts-man based agriculture emphasizing soil health. The winery produces red and white wine.
Le Mouton Blanc 2015 – Mâcon Bray (Chardonnay)
- Soil: Limestone Clay
- Color: Deep oat straw
- Aromas: Medium intensity, apples, white peach, acacia, fresh citrus, a bit of grassiness
- Palate: Pronounced, round feel, an almost voluptuous creaminess gives way to crushed shells and tart, green apple.
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Winemaking: No sulfur or indigenous yeast, a 6-month cool fermentation with a very low temperature, aging in older barrels, no fining or filtration. This gives lots of extraction and that creamy palate feel and taste but bright, freshness is retained.
- Cost: $17.99 (15 euros)
While there’s a large range of Chardonnay styles in the Mâconnaise, this particular style was captivating at a great cost to value ratio. And the pairing with food!
The food pairing was right on, a poke bowl riff of mixed greens dressed in sesame vinaigrette, caramelized onions and fennel, avocado, and thinly sliced cucumber sticks. Le Mouton Blanc would go well with grilled salmon, sushi, and other white fish, to name a few. Chicken in a white wine sauce- yes please!
Next up- Beaujolais, where Gamay rules and carbonic maceration is common.
Beaujolais lies at the southern end of Burgundy. Some say it’s part of Burgundy while others insist not. It’s in between the cities of Lyon (north) and Mâcon (south).
- There’s much more to Beaujolais than Beaujolais Nouveau!
- 98% of wine produced is red from the Gamay grape, Beaujolais Blanc is Chardonnay
- All 10 Beaujolais “Crus” are 100% Gamay
- Generally lighter-style red wines, higher acidity and lower tannins = great with food
- Three appellations: Beaujolais AOC (regional), Beaujolais Villages AOC (38 villages), Beaujolais Cru (10 each)
- Look to spend just $15 – $20 for nice Beaujolais
Understanding Beaujolais soils helps to understand the wine. The Nizerand River separates the north and south, with distinctly different soils on each side. Northerly soils are granite and shist resulting in wines with structure and complexity (often drink similar to a red Burgundy). The ten Beaujolais “Crus” are in the north. Limestone and clay based marls are found south of the river- this is where wines are generally lighter and fruitier.
My pick comes from the northern Cru Morgon, known for its ability to age and possessing “soubois”– a vegetative, mushroom like, forest floor quality.
This small producer is 50 kilometers north of Lyon. He works his vineyards traditionally and manually using no chemical pesticides. Jean-Marc is not officially certified organic but farms as such. He believes high density vine planting is important for quality, as Gamay vines need competition in the soil to produce grapes with concentration.
- Soil: Granite
- Color: Ruby with a tinge of garnet
- Aromas: Imagine sitting in a forest, a bowl of cherries and raspberries in your lap. At times the fruit aromas are more powerful, then the forest chimes in with its spicy, earthy smells.
- Palate: Crunchy black cherry, strawberry, and pomegranate give way to a dusty texture and a zingy fruit feel that softens to lingering fruit and violets on the finish. Firm minerality, lush fruit, energetic and lively.
- Tannins: Medium –
- Alcohol: 13%
- Wine Making: Carbonic maceration of whole grapes for 9-days, aged 6-months
- Cost: $22.99 (18 euros)
Mark and I enjoyed this wine slightly chilled (a norm for Beaujolais). It’s perfect for summer with a variety of foods including grilled vegetables, or steak with Simply Recipes chimichurri. If you’re tempted to buy a Beaujolais Cru, look for the village names of Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chenas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly, or Brouilly.
Join us, the French #Winophiles on Saturday, June 17th at 10:00 am CDT for a Twitter chat about our southern Burgundy discoveries! Tweet your questions and comments using the hash tag #Winophiles
A Virtual Tour of Burgundy, Part 2:
Côte Chalonnaise, Màconnaise and Beaujolais
The French #Winophiles
L.M. Archer of binNotes shines a light on “Burgundy’s Overlooked Other White Wine.”
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.”
Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog regales us with: “A Journey Through Burgundy Part 2, Exploring Mâconnais with #Winophiles.”
Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Wine Predator takes on: “Bourgogne with Beef Bourguignon from an Instant Pot.”
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.”
Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest steers us through “Navigating Southern Burgundy: Mâconnaise and Beaujolais.”
Extra! Extra! Deciphering the Label
Most white wine in Mâcon is labeled Mâcon-Villages or Mâcon + the name of the wine producing village. Twenty-six villages can legally append their name to the regional Mâcon AOC because they’re recognized as having higher quality wine. For example “Mâcon-Vergisson”, where Mâcon is the AOC and Vergisson is the name of the village.
A special thanks to Chris Puppione at Martines Wines!
Information about the Wine Aroma Wheel can be found here.