A classical growing season in the Mâconnais. The vines did not suffer from drought as there was much more rain here in August than there was further north. The result is wines which have a freshness and minerality which is at odds with the reputation of the vintage elsewhere. Yields were also restrained here - Frantz Chagnoleau reported 45-48hl/ha across his domaine, which is a lot less than in either Chablis or the Côte d'Or. Frantz said the 2018 wines were 'fresher than 2017, citrus and minerals', while Julien Barraud described the wines as 'balanced, thirst-quenching, fresh - like 2016 or 2014'.

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Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau

Frantz Chagnoleau and his wife Caroline Gon, who is also the winemaker at the Comte Lafon Mâcon operation, are rising stars of the Mâconnais. Together they have a small domaine consisting of 3.5 hectares of Mâcon in a single block in Saint Albain, and several small plots in Viré Clessé, Saint Véran and Pouilly Fuissé, making up 6.8 hectares in total. All the vineyards are organically farmed (Ecocert certified).

Great care is taken at harvest to pick at the optimum moment for sugars, acidity and aromatic precursors, and they will stop the picking between parcels if they think that the ripening is not even across the whole domaine. Grapes are manually picked into 25kg cases, so as to get whole, undamaged grapes to the winery. After careful pressing, a very non-interventionist vinifcation takes place with natural yeasts in oak foudres.

The wines are kept on the lees to preserve freshness until the beginning of summer, when they are racked and lightly filtered, before bottling before the next harvest, except for some of the top wines which are aged for another six months in tank in order to develop fully. The wines are expressive and pure and well worth seeking out.

In 2018 they have moved to a slightly more spacious cellar, so have more room to work. They started picking on the 26th August. As elsewhere in the Mâconnais, they feel that there is more freshness, more minerality than in 2017 - alcohol levels were at 12.6% for the Mâcon and 13.1-13.2 for the Saint Verans - there was much more rain down here in August than in the Côte d'Or.

Domaine Daniel Barraud

Daniel and Martine Barraud, now joined by their son Julien and daughter Anaïs, have vineyards in Vergisson that are mostly high up under the famous rock (Vergisson lies between the two dramatic cliffs of the rocks of Solutré and Vergisson). The vineyards here are significantly higher than those of Fuissé, and are consequently later-ripening, and the wines often have a more solid structure - but all of Daniel's wines have their own character, from the Puligny-like directness of the La Roche to the fat richness of the 'en Buland', via the mineral force of the Crays.

All the wines are made keeping close to the tenets of bio-dynamics - not as Daniel says for the sake of it - but because over the generations experience has taught them these principles really are the best way forward - as such they only ever bottle on a waning moon, All the wines see some barrel ageing apart from the Chaintré, which is aged in foudre (2/3) and tank.

As Allen Meadows wrote in 2014 in Burghound "I have said this before, but I will say it again: no one makes better wine in the Mâconnais than Barraud. There are a few domaines that produce wines that are sometimes just as good, ... but none of them surpasses the quality he consistently produces. If you aren’t familiar with the wines, you owe it to yourself and your pocketbook to check them out." (www.Burghound.com). In 2018 They picked from the 28th August to the 15th of September (stopping for 4 days in the middle. 'The wines are balanced, thirst-quenching, fresh - like 2016 or 2014', said Julien.