Tasting Eric Forest’s Mâcon-Vergisson ‘Sur la Roche’, I was struck by its freshness – I could almost feel the wind in my hair. He explained that it’s due to three aspects of the vineyard. Firstly, it sits at 400m altitude so it benefits from a cooler growing season, which helps retain acidity. Secondly, it faces northeast, so it gets less sun than some of the surrounding sites, making for a more gradual ripening. The altitude and the northern exposure give rise to the third freshening influence – the wind.
“The wind is very important for Vergisson,” he says, particularly in hot vintages like 2017. It cools the grapes so they suffer less from the heat, it preserves acidity and fruit flavours and it also concentrates the berries. The result is a wine with bright, tangy, lime-tinged fruit, sappy acidity and amazing vibrancy. A wine with no excesses.
Givry in the Côte Chalonnaise is no longer as under-the-radar as it once was – partly thanks to the incredible work done by François Lumpp since setting up his family estate in 1991. What does remain something of a secret is Givry’s white wines. It’s not surprising – around eighty percent of its output is red – but when you taste Lumpp’s whites the potential is palpable.
His Givry Blanc Premier Cru ‘Crausot’ 2017 comes from a tiny plot of 25-year-old Chardonnay. It has a divine purity. The scent is as clear as a bell, the finish just as reverberant. It has a piercing, aerial freshness and a long finish that descends softly, like a feather. Let’s hope it stays a secret.
It was once found in the vineyards of Corton-Charlemagne and Montrachet, but since then Aligoté has been relegated to less well-exposed terroirs. But tellingly it’s never been forgotten – many of the region’s most illustrious producers grow a little. And it’s picking up admirers all the time. Jean-Christophe Perraud has a small plot with an average age of 25 years near La Roche-Vineuse in the Mâconnais. Although he admits it hasn’t always been his most sought-after wine, he says when it comes to Bourgogne Aligoté amongst his clientele, “la mentalité change”.
Aligoté rarely has the richness and power that Chardonnay can accrue. But that’s not always what we want in a white. And it retains many other characteristics – finesse, balance, minerality, site expression – that make great Chardonnay so valued. Perraud’s displays a certain wholesomeness, a floral freshness, and a touch of silk on your tongue that would make it a great by-the-glass option and good introduction to an intriguing, underrated grape variety.
It’s not every day you see a bottle of Mâcon-Villages with an image of sardines on the label. But as soon as you taste it you see why. It has a cleansing, mountain-stream freshness and deeply inlaid acidity like a squeeze of lemon – it sings for a plate of fresh fish. Preferably line caught from the sea by your own hand. Thrown on a disposable barbeque on the beach with a sprinkling of salt, smoke combining with the sea air…
The Domaine Robert-Denogent is one of the most impressive domaines in the Mâconnais, and the owner chooses a non-interventionist route to craft their wines: hand-harvested, indigenous years, no fining or filtration and minimum sulphur. And, needless to say, they go very well with food
Click HERE to read Matt Walls’ discoveries Day 1
Click HERE to read Matt Walls’ discoveries Day 2