Chardonnay, Mâcon-Villages wine review 2020
We’ve got 5 Chardonnay wines from Burgundy in France. Sourced from leading supermarkets, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Lidl and Marks and Spencer. Which will be the best value Macon-village in 2020?
People use ABC in many ways to describe all sorts of things and actions. In wine, ABC is a commonly used customer phrase that can subdue even the most patient of sommeliers. It simply means Anything But Chardonnay… Just what is it that has turned a whole generation of drinkers into a flock of Chardonnay haters? Well the truth is, many French white wines are actually Chardonnay but like most French labels it just doesn’t say it on the bottle. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me for a Chablis moments after proclaiming ABC! Of course, for those of you who know, Chablis is a Chardonnay, just from a specific region. The same is true of today’s tasting, Mâcon-Villages is a Chardonnay grape from the Mâconnaise region in southern Burgundy in France. For those of you staying at home, you might be interested in the Macon Chardonnay we are now offering with free home delivery, to take a look click here.
Where did all the Chardonnay hate come from?
For many years, particularly in the 1980’s most of the Chardonnay in the UK was over oaked and heavy malolactic fermentation methods made them almost undrinkable. These badly made wines, many from Australia, arguably ruined the reputation of one of the most versatile grapes. This is not to say that oak or malolactic fermentation is a bad thing, just using it to excess is totally unnecessary. Some of the finest Chardonnays in the world like Puligny Montrachet or Mersault are made using these methods, just with more skill and finesse. It’s hard pull off a silky, creamy and buttery wine that still excretes fresh fruit notes without the best grapes and a skilled winemaker. Sadly in 80’s Australia the winemakers would even use oak chips in the tanks to cement this over oaked flavour.
So, this goes a long way to explaining why people define their wine buying by ABC. It really is a shame however, as there are many fantastic Chardonnays out there, many of them are made in steel tanks and have never seen a hint of oak. Now is the time to give them another go and leave those pre-conceived ideas about what Chardonnay is behind!
Today we are tasting wines from the Mâconnaise region in the south of Burgundy in France. Specifically, in the appellation of Mâcon-Villages. This is a step up from the standard Mâcon wine and ensures that the grapes have come from one if not more of the designated Mâcon villages. Generally speaking, Mâcon-Villages wine is unoaked certainly at this price point, so no need for any ABC’s here. The grapes are from further south than say Chablis and tend to ripen quicker, giving a more expressive fruity characteristic as opposed to steely minerality.
Classic flavours that are associated with Burgundy Chardonnay are…
So today we have 4 wines specifically from the Mâcon-Villages appellation and one from the wider Burgundy region (which has a touch of oak, but only around 10%). As per the wine hack blind tasting rules all the bottles were fully covered so no one knew which they were tasting or in what order. Which will take the crown of the infamous winehack gold award? And can we finally be rid of ABC… Let’s find out.
With thanks to Rowan and Alex who joined the winehack team for the latest blind tasting.
Smell A lot going on, strong on the nose. Crab apple, citrus zest and blossom
Taste Well balanced with a bit of complexity, oily, apple coming through and a sherbet edge
Finish Palate cleansing finish with a little less acidity, lemon and elder flower hints
Buy this if… you want a well rounded Burgundy Chardonnay, overall our favourite of the bunch particularly given the price
Smell Peachy! Lychees, stonefruit, summer
Taste A little less acidic but still present and remains crisp. Touch of caramel and apricots
Finish Not too acidic, but lingering with apple present
Buy this if… you want something with a slightly more summery feel. Still well rounded with not too much acidity
Smell Pear drops along with citrus, sharper on the nose
Taste Yeasty edge but tart, stewed apples
Finish Shorter with more acidity
£10 (currently on offer for £9 at time of writing)
Buy this if… you want something sharp, with a slightly shorter finish
Smell Standing in a limestone cave, apple
Taste Acidity takes over a bit, lemongrass and stonefruit
Finish Strong, lingering with plenty of acidity
Buy this if… you want something with a spade more acidity again than the others. We felt the acidity detracted from some of the other flavours however
Smell Sea mist, quite gentle, not very expressive
Taste Bitter apple, lime
Finish Quite short, alcohol present but little fruit coming through
Buy this if… you want the cheapest option. Price is certainly not a guarantee of the best wine as the blind tastings show, but in this case the Lidl bottle was not as enjoyable as the others. We’d suggest spending the extra to buy from Sainsbury’s