The southern part of Burgundy, France plays host to many famous communes and townships: Notably Pouilly Fuisse, Macon, and St. Veran. The town of Clesse is a sleepy french commune, its only real attraction, aside from the wine of course, being an 11th century church with an octagonal tower. The basic red grape of the region is Gamay, producing wines somewhat inferior to the regions southerly neighbor, Beaujalais. The white grape is Chardonnay.
Macon-Clesse is produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes. This special cuvee, designated “La Vigne Blanche” comes from one vineyard site famous for its stoney, limestone soil and steep, undulating topography. Due to these characteristics, the vineyard receives lots of sun, and remains well drained and dry. The grapes are hand picked and carted in small lug boxes to the winery. The name of the winery is Cave de Vire, and is considered one of the best in the region.
The grapes are fermented in small lots designated by specific locations within the vineyard itself. There are between 12 and 15 different lots. Now comes the blending process which, for this particular vintage, only employed 3 of the fifteen lots. Oenologist, Mr. Em-manual Bene and Peter Mahan (from whom I purchased the wine) describe the blend like this: “Lot #4 makes up 40% of the wine because of the rich fruit and apple-like aroma. Lot #9 makes up 40% of the wine for the firm acidity and freshness it provided. And finally, lot #13 at 20% for its balance and texture.” Only 3000 cases were available for the entire United States and I am very excited to bring the 1990 vintage (a great year for Burgundy!) to you.
Chardonnay is not considered a versatile grape, though it can produce wines of varying styles. A good example would be to compare last month’s White Oak (#991A) with our selection this month. Both Chardonnays, each made by skilled wine makers, one from the Old World (Macon-Clesse), one from the New World (White Oak).
Our selection shows a brilliant yellow with light hints of chartreuse. The nose has apples and lemon. The body is medium but full flavored with apples and citrus. The finish is long and clean with enough acid for good balance. Serve slightly chilled with river fish; salmon, trout or perch. Try herb roasted chicken.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now through 1993.