WineAccess Travel Log
Read stories from the world's greatest wine trails.
The vast Maconnais region of southern Burgundy is a particularly rich source for reasonably priced Chardonnays. Most of this area is somewhat warmer than the Cote d'Or, and thus the vines here usually enjoy a longer season and achieve greater ripeness. You'll find everything from lush, tropical-fruity examples that can out-California California Chardonnay at half the price to more serious wines that can rival examples from the Cote d'Or at a fraction of the cost. There is very little red wine of note made in the Maconnais: Pinot Noir here must be labeled simply "Bourgogne" and the wine called Macon rouge is made from Gamay.
The most basic wines of the region, labeled "Macon" or "Macon-Villages," are usually made in stainless steel tanks and bottled quickly to preserve their bright, crisp fruit. These wines are generally best suited for drinking within a few years after their release. In theory, Macon-Villages is the appellation used to signify higher-quality wines from the region's favored villages. As a general rule, sites on the first slopes near the Saone River are best. Wines made from fruit from a single village generally append their name to Macon on the label (i.e., Macon-Fuisse, Macon-Vergisson, Macon-Davaye); wines that are blends from two or more of these villages are typically bottled as Macon-Villages. In the northern portion of the large Maconnais area a new appellation controlée, Vire-Clesse, was created in 1999, originally for dry wines only but now including wines with residual sugar too--from a large delimited area around the towns of Viré and Clessé. The harvest here takes place a good week to ten days later than in vineyards farther to the south, leaving open the possibility of extra ripeness and the incidence of botrytis.