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Petit Chapeau Macon-Villages 2011
Crisp, balanced and delicately floral, Chardonnays from the Macon Villages are often made in the unoaked style and offer a magnificent sampling of what white Burgundy has to offer—without years of waiting and high dollar price tags.
Within the greater Mâconnais, the Macon Villages wines are those within a few defined and optimally situated villages, either noted by the name Mâcon-Villages or as Mâcon followed by the name of the particular village, for example Viré, Lugny, Azé, Bray or Burgy.
Commonly vinified in stainless steel or glass-lined concrete vats, these are mostly intended for consumption within a year or two of the vintage, though a few serious Mâconnais producers have turned their focus to smaller yields and barrel fermentation and maturation. Regardless, you can count on Macon Villages whites to be fresh and fruity with citrus and melon flavors, and aromas of white roses, honeysuckle, lemon-grass or fennel.
This is a great region to explore if you already like California, Australian or Chilean Chardonnay.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.