The outstanding Mâcon-Villages from Henri Perrusset is time travel in a bottle, ferrying you back to the days when you could pop the cork on white Burgundy without thinking twice, when you didn’t have to turn to less-trodden regions for weeknight, terroir-driven Chardonnay. The down-to-earth nature of this cuvée is fitting given Kermit’s first encounter with its maker, Henri, more than three decades ago. The two met not in one of Burgundy’s ancient, hallowed cellars but instead in a sort of truck-stop restaurant in Fleurie. At the communal table, Kermit struck up a conversation with the young Henri, who turned out to be a vigneron awaiting his first harvest after years of his family selling its grapes to the local cave coopérative. Kermit took note of his address and visited the following year. The rest is history. Henri’s Mâcons have been staff and client favorites since the beginning thanks to their class, versatility, and unbelievable value. This cuvée offers generous, mouth-coating notes of citrus and orchard fruit, propped up by an impressive spine of minerality.
A few decades ago, in a small, local vigneron hangout in the Beaujolais, Kermit and Henri Perrusset met rather serendipitously. There weren’t enough tables in the restaurant and the hostess seated Kermit with Henri, who was just finishing up his meal. Their conversation blossomed, and Henri invited Kermit to visit and taste his first vintage. We have been buying these delicious, distinctive Chardonnays ever since. For decades, the Mâconnais has been dominated by the banal bottlings of cooperative cellars. But at the same time, Henri Perrusset has been working his vineyards by hand, reducing his yields to improve grape quality, all while offering us very reasonable prices.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
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