If ever there was a time for the Mâconnais to step up to the plate, then the vintage 2021 was the moment to do so. The spring frosts of early April 2021 hit the Côte de Beaune like never before, affecting the more precocious Chardonnay vines especially hard, leaving most white wine producers with production levels between 75 and 100% down. Some cuvées were simply not made at all! With 2019 and 2020 both being very strong primeur vintages, this has left the market with a major shortage of white Burgundy, just at a time when it has never been so popular.

So, what a time for the best producers of the Mâconnais to produce some truly lovely wines that zing with vibrancy and intensity, yet, reach the marketplace at prices a fraction of their more illustrious cousins.

We are delighted that Jancis Robinson was so impressed with this often-neglected part of Burgundy and could not agree more that certain producers seemed to have played a blinder in this old school vintage.

She highlighted some of the offerings from Olivier Giroux of Domaine Clos des Rocs in Loché and the famous Bret Brothers of Domaine de la Soufrandière in Vinzelles as being particularly special and we are pleased to still have a little stock left to offer today. We have also included the other wines from these two producers still available from the offer. Plus, we couldn’t leave out the wines from Gilles Morat which we felt were arguably the best he has ever made and more than deserve their place alongside those from the other two domaines.

Domaine Gilles Morat, Vergisson

Despite the irrepressible positivity of the famille Morat – Gilles, Joëlle and son Pierre – there was no mistaking their dismay at the tiny volumes in 2021. Several cuvees were not made this year, including the excellent Saint-Véran climat of La Côte Rôtie, as well as the recently promoted Pouilly-Fuissé 1er Cru of Les Crays. Fortunately, what was made was of an excellent quality, even if Gilles admits it wasn’t the easiest growing season to work with, particularly given this was the final year of conversion to organics.

As ever, one can’t help being impressed by wines at this address that offer a precision, intensity and tension not always associated with this end of Burgundy. As such, winemaking here tends more towards the reductive side with as little racking as possible and usually no bâtonnage, though this year, with plenty of natural acidity, a small amount was carried out to build texture. Oak too is used sparingly with a maximum of 10-15% used on the 1er Cru. Gilles proudly describes the family as ‘big defenders of acidity’ and looking out from the family domaine up in the exposed hills above Vergisson it’s easy to see why. With the Roc de Vergisson on one side and the Roc de Solutré on the other, the lower Mâconnais falls away between them in the plateau beyond and reminds us what a cut above this terroir is. No wine epitomises this more than the outstanding Pouilly-Fuissé, La Haut de La Roche, located at 425m altitude on a bed of limestone and comically deemed by the authorities to be too high for inclusion into the 1er Cru section of Sur La Roche! An outstanding effort and proof, should it ever be required, of the Mâconnais’ ability to challenge the Côte d’Or on quality.

2021 Saint-Véran ‘La Roche Mer’
Drink from 2023
This opens with lovely intensity, full of peaches, cream and a touch of honey. There’s very nice tension here too that holds everything together very nicely. This finishes long and elegant in the mouth with a note of acacia blossom. This includes fruit usually destined for Saint-Véran ‘Côte Rôtie’ that was not made this year as a standalone cuveé. This is a very smart introduction to the line-up this year!

2021 Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Haut de la Roche’
Drink from 2024
At 425m this is this is one of highest vineyards in Pouilly-Fuissé, based on calcareous soils on the Hill of Vergisson. As one might expect with this exposure and soil profile, the wine is beautifully pristine, though dense and still quite reserved. There is an almost electric quality to it, showing a saline mineral character along with mouth-watering ripe lemon, white grapefruit and freshly cut Granny Smith. A wine to silence any doubters of the Mâconnais, this wine stopped us in our tracks as one of the greatest examples of Pouilly-Fuissé we could remember tasting.

2021 Pouilly-Fuissé 1er Cru ‘Sur La Roche’
Drink from 2025
From a respectably lofty 400m this was another stunning example from chez Morat this year. Richer than the ‘Haut de la Roche’, this is extremely powerful and tightly coiled, packed with nectarine, baked apple and toasted spices from the barrel. This packs very serious intensity with beautifully focused acidity to carry the natural fruit weight. This no doubt has an excellent life ahead.

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Domaine Clos des Rocs, Loché

The relentlessly energetic Olivier Giroux bought this estate in 2002, having grown up in neighbouring Fuissé where his parents have a domaine. From day one Olivier’s mission was to make site-specific wines that would express the nuances in terroir. To this end, he farms organically (certified since 2015) and changes little in his winemaking from one cuvée to the next, albeit his Mâcon-Lochés are raised exclusively in tank while the rest of the range sees some oak. He increasingly favours used 500L barrels but is a fan too of 300L inox barriques – it’s fascinating, Olivier explains, how their shape alone means they can impact a wine differently from a conventional tank.

As Olivier points out, even the richer, more gourmand cuvées finish with a moreish salty lick in ’21. He attributes this, above all, to having “living soils” free from artificial chemicals but also the rigours of excessive tilling. It was a challenging vintage: Olivier lost half his crop and fermentations were painfully slow, calling for extra batonnage to stimulate the yeast, but the ‘21s Olivier has made are excellent, in what he describes as a relatively open style, classic of the Mâconnais.

2021 Pouilly-Loché ‘Les Barres’
Drink from 2024
From clay soils with a high proportion of gravels, the vines are from two parcels of 50 and 80 year old vines. A beautifully inviting nose, expressive and complex with ripe peach fruit and layered sweet spice. The aromatic openness slightly misleads here as the palate delivers serious power and remains quite tightly coiled. There is a lightly savoury, nutty finish and great length.

2021 Pouilly-Loché ‘La Chantone’
Drink from 2024
From one of the oldest and most revered vineyards in this small 32ha appellation, the vines of En Chatonne are up to 110 years old and located on limestone-rich soils. There is immense power here, taut and intense with attractive Mirabelle fruit that is complemented by a distinctive salinity. Whilst very attractive now this is still quite raw and will benefit from a little longer in bottle.

2021 Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Les Pierrottes’
Drink from 2024
Rich, golden, opulent, and spicy, there is a real generosity to this wine that still manages to feel fresh and very composed at the same time. There is a more mealy character to the wine, a light crème brûlée note that adds to the decadence. 90-year old vines go some way to explaining the levels of intensity offered here. The wine sees élevage for twelve months in old 500l barrels.

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Bret Bros, Domaine de la Soufrandière

There may be two of them, but there are no two ways about it: the Bret Bros produce some of the finest wines the Mâconnais has to offer. These are wines with incredible precision and freshness, which invariably age well. The adventure began for Jean-Philippe and Jean-Guillaume in 2000, when they took back from the local co-op four hectares of vines that had belonged to their grandfather in the village of Vinzelles. La Soufrandière today amounts to some 11.5 hectares, which are farmed biodynamically, while the négociant business Bret Bros draws on a similar surface area of vineyards managed by friends who share the Brets’ commitment to organics and, in many cases, biodynamics. The brothers use minimal SO2 and no new oak whatsoever. They believe that exposing the free-run juice to just the right amount of oxygen means their wines become more resilient (and therefore less reliant on SO2 for protection) for the long-term. They produced about two-thirds of a normal crop in 2021 owing primarily to the frost, and kicked off harvest on September 20th. Whatever the quantity, they are delighted with the results, which boast remarkable energy, concentration and length.

2021 Saint-Véran ‘La Bonnode’
£135ib/6 • £144ib/3 magnums
Drink from 2024
Located at the foot of the Roche de Vergisson, on an eastfacing slope, this sees élevage in a combination of old barrels (60%) and stainless steel (40%). This has an intense stone fruit character, it feels fresh and lightly spicy with a lovely fruit weight to it.

2021 Pouilly-Fuissé 1er Cru ‘Les Longeays’
Drink from 2025
From a gently sloping south-east facing site with iron-rich clay and limestone soils. This feels wonderfully pure with green orchard fruit, preserved lemon and a savoury spiced note. This again packs some real intensity and with a light phenolic bite to it, suggests good aging potential. Smart stuff indeed!

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