Saturday, June 27, 2015

All Hail Chardonnay - Domaine des Vercheres Macon Villages 2013

When it comes to white wine, Chardonnay is still King (or Queen if you will) in my book and sales figures will back me up on that. According to the Wine Institute, Chardonnay still has the largest US market share of all the varietals with a 21% share. That's as of 2013. Now I'm in love with Italian whites like Soave and Fiano di Avellino or Northern Spain's Albarino, but good Chard can hit all the right notes, pairing orchard fruit flavors with good body and acidity. I've been critical of domestic Chard in the past. I think too many are too ripe and sweet with accompanying high alcohol levels. These versions are usually lacking in acidity and end up tasting flabby and dull.

For me there's no better everyday Chard than what one can find from the Macon region of France's Burgundy. It's a huge appellation with over 9,000 acres under vine. Most wine drinkers know Pouilly-Fuisse, the most famous appellation within the Macon, and St. Veran is another Macon appellation that is known for quality Chardonnay. The entry level Macon designation has a three-tier hierarchy - plain old Macon, Macon-Villages and Macon plus a village name like Macon-Pierreclos for instance.

Domaine des Vercheres is a small family run operation in the northern end of the Macon. The Chardonnay vines average 30 years of age and grow at an altitude of 800 ft or so. This delicious little wine is fermented partially in French oak barrels and partially in stainless. Partial malolactic and stirring of the lees add richness and depth. It's got subtle aromas of pear and green apple with almond and citrus notes. The wood is not heavy handed here and the orchard fruit flavors dominate the medium bodied palate. This tasty little wine has good acidity, an attractive texture and it finishes bright and long with lime and mint notes. Imported by Martin Scott, this lovely everyday Chardonnay cost me $11.99.