About a month ago I attended an interesting food and wine pairing initiative organised by the BIVB (“Bureau Interprofessionnel de Vins de Bourgogne“) and the Union Professionnel des Vins de Mâcon at the Atelier Guy Martin in Paris. I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the Mâconnais and I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the wines and the ease with which they paired with a whole range of dishes.
The Mâconnais is located in the rolling hills of southern Burgundy and the region stretches over 35km from Sennecey-le-Grand to Saint-Vérand on the Beaujolais border; it is about 10 km wide and wedged between Saône and the Grosne. Vines were first planted in the region by the Romans, viticulture was further expanded by the Abbeys of Cluny and Tournu in the middle ages and in 1937 the Mâcon AOC was established. Over 80% of the total production is white wine made from Chardonnay (grown on 3,243 hectares), with the remainder of the appellation (484 hectares) planted with Gamay or Pinot Noir for the production of red wine or rose. Because of the hilly landscape, most of the vineyards have either a north/north-westerly or a south/south-easterly exposure and vines seem to thrive on the hillsides. The soils are diverse and include limestone, clay, sand, calcium rich rocks, sandstone pebbles and granite closer to the Beaujolais region. The AOC encompasses the «arrondissement » of Mâcon and 11 neighbouring communes and differentiates between Mâcon, Mâcon-Villages, or Mâcon + the name of the village of production. These villages are Azé, Bray, Burgy, Bussières, Chaintré, Chardonnay, Charnay-lès-Mâcon, Cruzille, Davayé, Fuissé, Igé, Mâcon Loché, Lugny, Mancey, Milly-Lamartine, Montbellet, Péronne, Pierreclos, Prissé, La Roche-Vineuse, Saint-Gengoux-le-National,Solutré-Pouilly, Uchizy, Vergisson, Verzé, Vinzelles.As mentioned before there is a wide diversity of styles in the Mâconnais. White wines range in colour from pale green to straw and gold depending on their terroir and their age. On the nose one often gets floral (white flowers such as acacia, honeysuckle and white roses) or herbacious (lemon grass, verbena) aromas and varieties of citrus fruit (meyer lemon, grapefruit, pomelo and tangelo). These aromas are similar on the palate but often there are some wood induced characteristics such a pine kernel and fennel as well as hints of ripe yellow apple and quince. The wines are fruit forward, lively, dry and can be either luscious or fresh, and very easy to drink. Red wines vary in colour from light cherry to dark ruby, and can show purple highlights. On the nose they often have hints of red or black fruit (cherry, strawberry, black berry or mulberry) as well as a little forest floor (mushroom, wet leaves) or even barnyard. On the palate the wines are surprisingly fleshy, with red and back fruit flavours, a few savoury notes and often an earthy finish. The tanins are well structured yet not invasive, and the wines become suppler and easier to approach with a little aging. At the event we tried 10 wines, consisting of 7 whites and 3 red wines. All the wines were paired either with a specific dish, or poured simultaneously to be tried with different dishes. We started with 2 wines as aperitif, a Mâcon Village 2011 by Domaine Jean-Yves Eloy and a Mâcon-Burgy – Domaine Olivier Fichet Les Vercheres 2007. They were paired with smoked salmon, water melon cubes and foie gras toasts. Both wines worked well and the selection of nibbles brought out different characteristics in the wine yet I felt the best match was the older wine with the richer nibbles (smoked salmon and foie gras) and liked the younger one especially with the Water Melon though the salmon paired pretty well too.
We then were poured 3 more wines (Vignerons des Terres Secretes, Croix Jarrier 2010 (Mâcon-Verze), Domaine de Tilles, Moulin de l’Oeuvre 2009 (Mâcon-Uchizy), Domaine Bourdon Mâcon Village 2010) which were matched with a Tuna and alfa alfa sprouts Maki, an avocado and crab mouse and a ginger and lemongrass Gamba on a bed of fennel. The 3 food and wine matches really worked with different people preferring different pairings but everybody agreeing that everything actually went pretty well together:-)Next we tasted 3 different red wines. First up was the Domaine Didier Tripoz- Mâcon-Charnay-les-Mâcon 2010 which was paired with Monkfish on a chorizo blini. The second wine was a Cave de Charnay-les-Mâcon, Mâcon-Charnay-les-Mâcon 2011 which was paired with a Saltimboca of veal with a black olive tapanada reduction. Both wines were fruit forward with smooth tanins and a few forest floor notes in the finish. They paired very well with the dishes but could have been easily drunk on their own as well. The last red we tried was the Domaine des Varennes, La Doyenne 2009 (Mâcon-Serrieres), made from 100 year old vines. This wine was significantly more intense, with concentrated red fruit flavours and sweet spicy and earthy notes in the finish and it worked very well with the confit d’agnau with carrots glazed in coconut milk.
From red we went back to 2 more full bodied whites – the Domaine Alain Normand Vieille Viognes 2009 (Mâcon-La-Roche-Vineuse) which complemented the laquered pork and polenta dish beautifully and the Cave de Lugny, les Charmes 2010 (Mâcon-Lugny) which was paired with a salmon and fresh cheese dill macaroon.
We also tried two very lovely desert wines, with excellent acidity and lovely concentrated flavours, however because Mâcon is generally seen as a dry appellation I prefer not to elaborate on these wines here.The event impressed me as it really showed off the diverse and fruit friendly character of the Mâcon wines. From the above you can see we tried a variety of dishes which all paired well with the wines. This inspired me to try a different pairing at home and I am happy to say that the Les Vins de Vicky, Domaine Olivier Fichet Mâcon-Villages 2010 paired beautifully with the my risotto of oyster mushroom, courgette and chicken rubbed in a mixture of ground tumeric, coriander seed and cumin seed. I knew Miss Vicky had asked the Union Professionnel des Vins de Mâcon to help her make a selection, of which the final wine was chosen by a panel of wine writers, wine lovers and wine professionals. The result is a fresh, easy drinking wine which can be enjoyed on its own, and will pair well with a variety of dishes (such as my risotto). I had very happy guests who also really loved the cool Vicky Wine label
Based on all of the above, I can highly recommend a Mâcon, white or red, as a a safe bet to take to a dinner party as the wines really over deliver and are an excellent price/quality purchase! And remember to share your favourite pairings with us here at Vinogusto