For decades, the local wine cooperatives of southern Burgundy’s Mâconnais had given the region a bad name for over-cropped, easy-drinking and largely uninteresting Chardonnays. Today, the region is seeing resurgence, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Dominique Lafon. The region’s historical and cultural richness was intriguing to Dominique, and he had enjoyed visiting winemaking friends there for years. These visits soon inspired him to plant roots in new pastures. Researching the Clos de la Crochette, an ancient vineyard site, led him to believe that the parcel could very well be one of the first planted to Chardonnay by the monks of the nearby Abbaye de Cluny.
For a visionary like Dominique, this was just the beginning. Convincing his family of more than thirty members to buy the land and invest outside of the Côte d’Or was no small feat. Understanding the potential of the region, this ardent terroirist ventured south with something to prove, and in 1999, he purchased 14 hectares of vineyards, bringing his new-found passion for biodynamic farming with him. Soon after setting up shop, Caroline Gon, already an accomplished winemaker, came on board and has been the head winemaker ever since. Using many of the techniques from Lafon’s legendary estate combined with Gon’s understanding of the Maconnais, they craft nine inspiring cuvees of Chardonnay. Treating many of these once-unknown parcels like premier crus, they allow them to go through malolactic fermentation and barrel aging. As such, they have not only elevated the standing of Mâcon, but have also given Burgundy lovers a terrific and cost-effective alternative to the Chardonnays of the more prestigious Côte de Beaune.
For more information, please see: comtes-lafon.fr
Mâcon Village: This is comprised of village level fruit from those vineyards that do not go into a single vineyard bottling. Good linear mineral expression with very round, buttery fruit. Excellent immediate drinking over the next 2 years.
Mâcon Milly-Lamartine: This is the village wine where the winery is located. Made up of mostly hillside grapes with some lower elevation fruit. Good minerality and length that’s rounded out by nice apple and pear fruit. Not super complex, but quite enjoyable now and ages well for 2-4 years.
Mâcon Uchizy, Les Maranches: From the new vineyards in Uchizy in the northern Macon region. Richer soils and better exposure make for earlier ripening here than in the south in Milly. The fruit is more baked apple but still retains a good acid core. Very poised wine that can compete with wines twice its price.
Mâcon Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four: This is the prized vineyard in the village of Milly located in a steep ampitheater directly behind Lafon’s winery. Much of the fruit here goes into the village Milly bottling with just the old vines in the heart of the vineyard, having best exposure, going into this cuvée. Very mineral with great length, this wine’s richness comes out only after at least a year in bottle. The fruit is classic Mâcon styled with tinges of citrus that give a hint of it’s potential to age at least 5-7 years.
Mâcon-Chardonnay, Clos de la Crochette: This is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, chardonnay growing site in the world. Located in the village where the Cluny monks first planted the varietal, this is the finest vineyard in the area. The perfect mix of clay and limestone combined with a medium steep slope and good eastern exposure, you can really feel the history here as you walk the vineyard. The resulting wine is very poised and possesses that perfect balance of crisp acidity, good mineral backbone and a very intense, long mouth-feel. The fruit shows both ripe apples and citrus with just a little spice.