White Burgundy Alert

White Burgundy still ranks among the wine world’s most famous grape varieties
and the benchmark styles from its native terroir remain a gold standard. We’re
of course referencing Chardonnay. It has also done very well in California, where
climate and drinking tastes converged in the 20th century, providing a significant
cornerstone upon which a young wine industry was initially built-up, then broadly
diversified. Widespread popularity of particular wine styles is subject to cycles. A
rapid rise for Chardonnay as a staple table wine in North America, was followed
by a degree of consumer fatigue, clearly expressed in a somewhat derisive and
unfortunate acronym: ABC ‘anything but chardonnay’. Within the vast range of
possible finishing styles that includes both dry sparkling and still wines, this, the
world’s most planted white grape, is enduring and defying fickle fashion.

Finished Chardonnay is a definitive winemaker’s wine, in that the characteristics
commonly associated with it: being highly aromatic, having a buttery mouthfeel,
tropical or stonefruit flavoured body, notes of vanilla – are all the carefully coaxed
results of how this relatively neutral grape is methodically fashioned. From time
to time, this has translated into excesses of one aspect overshadowing others.
As this is also one rarer example of a white wine being suitable for barrel aging,
overly Oaked versions of less-select grape harvests, did for a time, contribute to
the decline in reputation and desirability for ever-more discerning drinkers. With
development of the grape in other cooler climate vineyards, fresh and vibrant
expressions of Chardonnay are more common again and arguably, truer to the
originating style from Burgundy. This week’s DéClassé recommended bottle is a
balanced classic and more than deserving of a revisit and re-appreciation.

The Mâconnais do have an indisputable expertise with this wine and their lighter
touch in production allows the more natural character of the fruit to shine. Their
practiced traditions with Chardonnay reach well back into the middle ages when
Mâcon was the heart of the Duchy of Burgundy. Some of France’s oldest lineage
of vines are found here, having begun a sustained cultivation, not surprisingly, by
monks as early as the 5th century. Flash forward to modern times and the region
is still outputting great, signature examples. This is one, where you will rue not
having picked up a second bottle, to enjoy with guests after having polished off
the first – Gold Medal, 2014 Concours Général Agricole in Paris.

Macon Vinzelles

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #405795 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Burgundy, France
By: Cave Des Grands Crus Blancs
Release Date: Mar. 7, 2015

Tasting Note
This is a wine that can be easily overwhelmed by food choices, so shy away from
heavy meats or anything with an acidic character such as tomatoes. As apéritif,
try with smoked salmon and gruyere cheese. As a main course compliment, try
with roast chicken, pork, fresh fish and pastas in light cream sauces.