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Tasty Chardonnay trio

Northside Staff
Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth

The best known white wines of Burgundy have so increased in price that they are no longer affordable to the average wine drinker. Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Meursault no longer grace many of our tables other than on rare special occasions. One solution is to head south.

The three villages cited above are located on a strip of land called the Côte de Beaune. Their white wines are produced in small quantities from Chardonnay grapes grown on some of France’s most expensive agricultural land. Twenty miles south is a much larger, sunnier area known as the Mâconnais. Chardonnay ripens more easily here and real estate prices are significantly lower, ultimately resulting in lower prices.

Three staff members at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind tasted 17 white wines from the Mâconnais. The wines were well made with flavors generally devoid of oak. Softer and milder than typical examples from the Côte de Beaune, their subdued fruit and minerally aromas maintained a Burgundian identity.

While these were nearly all very pleasant wines, three stood out for their quality and individuality. Lauding it for its “creamy complexity,” Dana chose the Domaine de Roally 2009 Viré-Clessé ($25/btl.) as his favorite of the three. Named for the two villages where its grapes were grown, this fairly rich wine had perhaps the longest finish of all the wines in the tasting.

Dave was a fan of the Girardin 2009 Mâcon-Fuissé ($20). He liked its crisp, lively acidity that gave it a refreshing quality some of the other wines lacked. Its subdued fruit and minerally style made it one of the drier tasting wines in the flight.

Jason’s top pick was the Cuvée Delaye 2010 St-Véran “Les Pierres Grises” ($16). He thought the wine’s soft, rich flavor was classically Mâconnais. Mineral notes mingle with hints of honey and butterscotch on this wine’s soft finish.

These three wines are each worthy of consideration, and should appeal to those tired of the oaky style of many Chardonnay-based wines. They will pair nicely with creamy pasta dishes, cold cuts, grilled seafood, roast chicken, or mildly seasoned stews containing pork, veal, or chicken.

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