Beaujolais, Mâconnais, Côte Chalonnaise: understated brilliance

Beaujolais in all its beauty

The Beaujolais region has a hard time escaping from its reputation as a producer of low-quality wine. But times have changed and a new generation of vintners, following in the footsteps of Marcel Lapierre and Jean Foillard, is making wine in a broad range of styles. From crystalline cuvées that shine in their youth to fine, concentrated Gamays for cellaring, there’s no doubt that this underdog has a lot to offer. Even more so thanks to its pleasing prices…

We’ll start off with Clos de la Roilette, a domain in the Fleurie appellation whose wines are a go-to for many a connoisseur. Still in Fleurie, there’s a magnificent, 20-hectare property that has managed to stay under the radar for now: Domaine des Marrans. On tasting these wines, made by Matthieu Mélinand, we were immediately won over by their juicy character, accessible in the years straight after the vintage. These are good bottles to have to hand.

Let’s leave Fleurie for another of the Beaujolais’ appellations: Morgon. A wine from Domaine de la Bonne Tonne is an excellent way to discover the area’s typical produce. Thomas and Anne-Laure Agatensi cultivate their five hectares as though the land were a garden, and the result is a range of cuvées that are fresh and fruity but not lacking in complexity. The young and talented Damien Coquelet is a rising star in Morgon, growing vines in Côte de Py and Chiroubles. His attempts at natural production have been successful, making cuvées that are pure and elegant in style.

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Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais

Whilst the spotlight is on Burgundy’s Côte d’Or more often than not, it would be a great error to forget about the Côte Chalonnaise and its neighbouring Mâconnais. There are plenty of hidden gems to be discovered here, and their prices are far less intimidating. In the Rully appellation, the Jacqueson family is an iDealwine favourite. Both the whites and reds give off wonderful fruit, and the texture across all the cuvées makes them easy-drinking, perfect for an aperitif ambiance. Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon is a 26-hectare domain that is organic and biodynamic; some of the finest Mâconnais cuvées come from here. If you’re after a classic Burgundian Chardonnay – round, buttery, and complex – we recommend those of Clos de la Crochette, which have a lovely tautness to balance things out.

Also biodynamic is the Vignes du Maynes estate, a precursor in this approach to viticulture since it converted back in 1998. These terroir-forward cuvées have something brilliant about them. The same goes for Domaine Guillemot-Michel, also biodynamic, which crafts cuvées of remarkable precision. We’ll finish off with one of the local stars, the Bret Brothers with their Domaine de la Soufrandière. A close relationship with the earth allows this dynamic duo to produce wines across 23 different appellations and climats. The white wines are crystalline and nuanced on the palate, with a balanced finish that’ll blow you away.

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