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Marvelous whites from Mâcon, FR

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth, Joshua Beane, Bill Winston

While the best known white wines of France's Burgundy region are expensive, good values can be found in the Mâconnais area in the south of Burgundy. Though the most famous wine of this district, Pouilly-Fuissé, is fairly pricey, the best value wines derive their name from the town that is the hub of the region, Mâcon.

The wines to look for, generally, are those called Mâcon-Villages. The "Villages" in this name indicates a wine made from grapes grown in any of 43 villages whose vineyards are deemed superior. Some wines in this category may append the name of a particular village, e.g., Mâcon-Lugny.

The grape for all of these wines is Chardonnay. As the wines are rarely heavily oaked, Mâcon-Villages is a good wine for drinkers who like ripe tasting Chardonnay, but are tired of the pronounced oaky character of many New World renditions.

The staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind-tasted twelve examples of Mâcon-Villages. The first-place wine was one of many produced by the Belgian-owned producer Verget. Their 2005 Mâcon-Villages "Grand Elevage," costing $17 per bottle, was one of the only wines showing the influence of new oak [Sku 10018].* The oak is well integrated, and this fairly lush wine is well balanced, bursting with vanilla-tinged Chardonnay fruit that lingers on the palate.

The second place wine was the 2006 Michel Barraud Mâcon-Villages "Vieilles Vignes." This unoaked, very fresh, zesty wine is full of fruit reminiscent of peaches and apples, and is a joy to drink [Sku 27870].* At $12, it is an outstanding value.

These wines are very food friendly. The Barraud will pair beautifully with simple seafood preparations, roast chicken, and pasta dishes with creamy sauces. The Verget can be paired with chicken stews and most pork or veal dishes. They are also just the thing to have on hand when the mood strikes to have a plain glass of tasty white wine!

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal 10/01/2007.

* To purchase this wine, simply type its "Sku" into the "Find" field at the top of the page, then click "Go."

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