Maison Verget | Two Belgians and their love for Burgundy

If you know anything about the age-old rivalry between France and its neighbouring Belgium, you might be shocked to read that here, both sides have conceded a victory. Maine and Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynen are partners in wine who admitted a total passion for fine Burgundy bottles many moons ago. In return, the French have embraced this dynamic duo as their own, even describing their wine as notable among stiff regional competition.

Where did Maison Verget begin?

The driving force behind this merchant business was Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynen, who had long considered Burgundy’s illustrious appellations to be the source of our finest wine. His desire to get involved in the wine growing side of things was initially thwarted by a lack of funds, with vineyards in the region highly coveted and difficult to acquire. Far from giving up on his dream, though, this enthusiast settled for directly purchasing grapes from other local vineyards, a ‘compromise’ that saw the foundation of Maison Verget in 1990.

Partners in wine

Whilst Maison Verget doesn’t cultivate its own grapes, there’s no question that the fruit used must be of the highest quality. From the start, they’ve aimed high in their crafting of fine wine, so it’s no surprise that the fruit selected is at the heart of the project. Plants and people come together as the Guffens-Heynen couple pick wine growers who share their vision, an understanding that respect for the earth and care for the terroir are fundamental. These links aren’t faceless business transactions, but durable partnerships based on trust and a mutual desire for excellence.

One advantage of the wine merchant is that buying grapes from elsewhere gives you much more freedom to browse around for exactly what you’d like. And this is what Jean-Marie and Maine have done. Taking the opportunity to experiment, they’ve sought grapes from all around Burgundy, covering areas from Chablis to the Côtes d’Or and enjoying diverse terroirs. Even the reputation of the Mâconnais region has shifted under their watch, an area that had been labelled as a spot for mass wine production. And none of this would be possible without the pioneering spirit of the couple, establishing themselves in their adopted home of the Burgundian landscape.

An experimental winery

For over 30 years now, experimenting has been key to the winemaking process at Maison Verget. It’s a more spontaneous way of doing things, led by intuition, and always has the grapes themselves at the heart of proceedings. The result of this is a range of excellent cuvées characterised by a certain subtlety, likely due to the veritable mosaic of terroirs chosen by the domain.

Until 2006, vinification was the job of Jean-Marie, and Jean-Marie alone. However, Julien Desplans was welcomed into the team after that, and this duo work together on the blending and maturing of their cherished grapes. Once the fruit is selected, it is first vinified parcel by parcel. The wines are usually matured on lees, and the chosen containers vary depending on the desired style; oak casks, stainless steel vats, and even cement containers are used. With the team’s intuition in mind, both the harvests and vinification decisions are made differently every year, following a spirit of adaptation and a rejection of any single method.

The wines

As already mentioned, the wines from Maison Verget represent a whole host of Burgundian appellations and terroirs, making them a good place to start if you want to try a variety of regional cuvées. In fact, it isn’t easy to sum up these wines in a coherent manner. Each and every cuvée in each and every vintage, though, has something in common: they are all made with an open and experimental spirit, never forgetting the fundamental aim of excellence.

Shop all wines from Maison Verget here

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