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Explore / Expertise

Mâcon Maestros: Growers That Go The Extra Mile

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Joanna Goodman Joanna Goodman / 05 February 2020

When it comes to Burgundy, Society buyer Toby Morrhall always says to go by grower first. In the Mâconnais, Burgundy's southernmost region, this is particularly pertinent as 70% of the wine here comes from co-ops. Some are excellent, many less so, but you experience a significant step up in quality and personality when you buy from high-quality small domaines who are making wines of world-beating quality. It's these that Toby seeks out on our behalf. I asked him to explain what it is about these producers that makes them stand out from the crowd:

'The main difference is that these people get their hands dirty! They are the ones sitting on the tractor in the vineyards and making the wine. They have an intimate knowledge of their land, even down to individual vines; this is crucial when it comes to making decisions about pruning and picking the grapes. It's their name on the bottle and they want the wine to be the best it can be and to reflect their winemaking philosophy as well as the terroir. The yields for some of these growers are sometimes less than you find in Meursault and other fancier appellations further north. Lower yields mean more concentrated fruit and more complexity of flavour in the wine. It's these small percentage differences in everything they do from grape to glass that all add up and make all the difference. Paying just that little bit more for these domaine-produced wines takes you not just one, but several notches above the basic blends.'

When it comes to Burgundy, Society buyer Toby Morrhall always says to go by grower first. In the Mâconnais, Burgundy's southernmost region, this is particularly pertinent as 70% of the wine here comes from co-ops.
When it comes to Burgundy, Society buyer Toby Morrhall always says to go by grower first. In the Mâconnais, Burgundy's southernmost region, this is particularly pertinent as 70% of the wine here comes from co-ops.

Toby has been buying Burgundy for The Wine Society for more than 20 years, travelling to the region every year to get out into the vineyards with our growers and monitor their progress with each vintage. This is also what makes the difference.

Meet the Burgundy Wine Growers

Frédéric Burrier

Frédéric Burrier
Frédéric Burrier

Frédéric is the sixth generation in charge of Maison Joseph Burrier and the family property Château de Beauregard in Pouilly-Fuissé. After many years at Jadot, one of Burgundy's leading négociants (merchants), Frédéric came back to the family business in 1999. Bright, passionate and charismatic, he has done a lot to raise quality and the profile of his region. The family holds 22 hectares of vines in Pouilly-Fuissé, seven in Saint-Véran and 12 in Beaujolais, and they also have their own négoce business. The mark of most great winemakers, Frédéric is constantly experimenting, working with different barrels of various woods from different coopers, though judging ageing just right so that the wood does not dominate. Despite a busy schedule, Frédéric always seems incredibly relaxed – 'Je suis passionné, non stressé' he says. And it shows in his wines.

Christophe Cordier

Christophe Cordier
Christophe Cordier

Toby describes Christophe of Domaine Roger Cordier in the village of Fuissé as, 'a piercingly blue-eyed human dynamo'! Christophe believes in pruning hard to get maximum concentration in his wines. He's also lucky enough to have a patchwork of 30-odd hectares of vines across eight villages in some lovely terroirs on which to draw. Christophe supervises everything, even the toasting of his oak barrels so they are done to his exact specification. The result? Wines which punch way above the weight of their, often humble, appellation.

Jacques and Nathalie Saumaize
Jacques and Nathalie Saumaize

Jacques and Nathalie Saumaize

This husband-and-wife team have been making both Saint-Véran and Pouilly-Fuissé wines from their eight hectares of vines since the 1980s sited mainly around the high-altitude village of Vergisson which produces fine and elegant wines. They are both from the region and feel passionate and very attached to their land. They pay meticulous attention to detail in vineyard and cellar, doing everything by hand and in respect of nature. Their wines are never over-oaked, just perfectly balanced and they are always striving to do better.

Jean-François Gonon

Jean-François Gonon
Jean-François Gonon

The fifth generation at his family's domaine, Jean-François has practically grown up in the vines, joining his parents as soon as he left school then taking over the reins in 1991. He works jolly hard with just three other people to help in the winery and on the 14ha of vineyards. These are divided between Pouilly-Fuissé and Mâcon in the Vergisson commune, in cool spots on east-facing slopes of the Roche du Solutré. Gonon goes the extra mile to do things properly, always having back-vintages of his wines ready to taste when Toby turns up and switching to Diam* corks for us without being asked.

*These are Toby's preferred closures for white Burgundy as they help prevent cork-taint and premature oxidation. Read more on Diam corks here.



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