22 November 2023
Burgundy Diaries – Day 5
By Jason Haynes, Burgundy Buyer
Time to hit the Mâconnais, and with an hour’s drive to Vinzelles I had to wolf down my morning pain au chocolat to get on the road in good time for a prompt 9AM start. Jean-Philippe Bret greeted me with his usual warmth and enthusiasm and far too much energy for that time of day! He seems to know just about every single vigneron in the Mâconnais and every single vineyard. Forget reading a book about the area, just listen to him for a couple of hours and you’ll find out all you need to know! We buy a mix of domaine wines from la Soufrandière and négoce wines from their brilliantly named Bret Bros label. This is one of THE very best operations in the area and the wines were tasting great. Volumes in the Mâconnais were less bountiful than they were in the Côte d’Or as the season was drier, and the grapes consequently had less juice in them. But the quality is high, and I tasted many wonderful things. Of the Mâcons, the Mâcon Chardonnay ‘Les Crays’ was wonderfully chalky and bursting with energy, while both the Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Les Longeays’ and the Pouilly-Vinzelles ‘Les Quarts’ were a delight. I managed to squeeze in some Beaujolais, too, before I had to dash off to the next appointment.
I didn’t have far to go as Domaine du Clos des Rocs is in Loché, which is less than a mile away! I couldn’t really blame the traffic for being a touch late! For my tasting with winemaker Olivier Giroux, I was joined by the well-known and well-respected US importer Neal Rosenthal who, though more than 20 years my senior, is full of youthful intensity and runs 90-minute half marathons for fun! We had an excellent tasting together and Olivier is both a very thoughtful and very driven winemaker with a great passion for his métier. His Pouilly-Loché ‘Les Barres’ was a delight and don’t tell the Loché purists out there, but his Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Les Pierrottes’, made from eighty-year-old vines, was very impressive. We all lunched locally together in downtown Fuissé at L’O des Vignes with a few others and had a couple of blind wines, which by coincidence were both from suppliers of ours! Another Pouilly-Fuissé from the Bret Bros was followed by a stunning 2020 Mercurey ‘Champs Martin’ Blanc from genius winemaker Bruno Lorenzon. This belonged for its sheer class in the Côte d’Or. It was brilliant.
The afternoon saw a couple of shorter visits. I went up the road to taste the latest releases from Alexis Pollier and make sure he had enough wine to keep us going for the next 12 months. Then, I made my way back north to Uchizy to visit for just the second time the new Domaine Thevenard, where two ambitious brothers are already making some lovely Mâcons, and are just at their second vintage. This is clearly a name to watch.