Sneaky – that’s the way I see it anyway. The 2012 Mâcon Villages Les Tilles from Jean-Marie Chaland is sneaky the way its flavors intensify with repeated sips. With an unoaked Chardonnay from the Mâconnais you might not expect much complexity, but this one is different. Once you get past the first refreshing, satisfying swallow, what emerges is a sophisticated expression of classic Chardonnay flavors like apple and pear.
Talented winemaker Jean-Marie Chaland, whose swashbuckler good looks make him a shoo-in for a remake of The Three Musketeers, organically farms several old-vine (some darn near ancient) micro-parcels in the villages of Viré and Montbellet. The grapes for the 2012 Les Tilles are mere youngsters at 40-50 years old and come from a single parcel grown on a plateau of clay and limestone soil near Montbellet. Jean-Marie takes a simple approach to vinifying this wine: stainless steel tank fermentation, natural yeasts, no added sugars or acidification. What you taste in the glass, aside from any clever flavor descriptor I can come up with, is the environment in which the grapes were grown (soil, climate, viticultural practices) and Jean-Marie’s gentle guidance of turning the grapes into wine.
Jean-Marie Chaland may take a simple approach to making his 2012 Mâcon-Villages Les Tilles but the end result is extraordinary. It is analogous to a chef, someone like Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe, who honored ingredients by skillfully preparing them without masking their inherent goodness and flavors. When you have a perfectly ripened garden tomato or a farm-fresh egg, there is not a whole lot you need to do to make it taste better.
And so to recap, the 2012 Mâcon-Villages Les Tilles:
1) organically grown grapes,
2) grown on clay/limestone soil,
3) 40-50 year old vines,
5) $19.99 per bottle or $16.99 by the case!
Did I just hear a needle scratch over the record? I must admit, I have tried excellent unoaked local Chardonnay but I can assure you, they don’t cost under $20 a bottle! An amazing value when you consider the material in the bottle.
Sent my big Bro home with a bottle!
Now for a little sharing – rather than watch the Super Bowl at home with her parents, my daughter opted to spend it at her BFF’s house – they too were having a party. Right after halftime, she called home to inform us that she had eaten dinner. After I assured her that that was fine and that I expected she would have eaten with them, she followed up by making me promise to save some of the Buffalo Wings we were serving for her to eat later! My little foodie!