Frantz Chagnoleau: Terroir-Driven Mâconnais Wines

Frantz Chagnoleau: Terroir-Driven Mâconnais Wines 7

Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau is a small estate run by two talented farmers and winemakers, Frantz Chagnoleau and his wife, Caroline Gon (winemaker at Héritiers du Comte Lafon). Frantz has a degree in oenology and cut his teeth working for Olivier Merlin in the Mâconnais. Caroline holds two degrees in agricultural engineering and oenology; she also worked at Newton Vineyards in Napa Valley.

The epicenter for intense, mineral-driven Chardonnay in the Mâconnais is near and around around the higher altitude villages of Vergisson and Solutré. La Roche de Vergisson and La Roche de Solutré (reaching 492 meters in elevation) are the anchors of the region’s top Cru: Pouilly-Fuissé. Some of the finest values and quality are found in the adjacent villages of Davaye, Prissé, Chasselas, and Fuissé. These high altitude sites form the finest St. Véran terroirs, many of which deliver the quality of Burgundies that are priced three to five times higher in the more famous villages of the Côte d’Or. After three decades of kicking stones in Burgundy, we can assure you that these villages consistently produce extraordinary value white Burgundy with few equals. Almost everywhere you find about twelve to twenty inches of dirt before you hit varying levels of solid bedrock, with the evidence of shells and fossils easy to find. From many of the vineyards, on a clear day you can see Mont Blanc.

The pure, mineral expression of Chardonnay in these villages delivers crushed stones, hints of chalk, and laser cut precision in the mouth. This is white Burgundy with a gorgeous lemony character, a palate-coating attack, and structure that often remind us of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. Additionally, these are wines that easily reward 5-10+ years of cellaring.

The vineyard work at Chagnoleau is arguably among the finest we have seen, with organic farming and many vineyards worked by horse. Frantz and Caroline believe that minimal intervention, including the use of indigenous yeast, is the best way to express the nuances of each unique terroir. Harvest is done completely by hand on a plot by plot basis, allowing each vine to achieve the appropriate balance of sugar and acidity. The wines are mostly aged in large, used French oak. This is a lineup of pure, terroir-driven Mâconnais wines.

Viré-Clessé ‘Les Raspillères’ 2014
-From a 0.71 ha vineyard grown on a steep hillside
-Clay and limestone sites at close to 300m with serious bedrock just below
-Certified organic
-Aged in older Burgundy barrels

Saint-Véran ‘La Roche’ 2014
-Only 80 cases produced
-Certified organic
-Made from 50-75+ year old vines
-Steep, high altitude southwest facing site (0.42 ha)-Clay and limestone site with lots of shells
-Aged in older Burgundy barrels

Saint-Véran ‘Á La Côte’ 2014
-Vineyard is worked entirely by horse.
-50+ year old vines.
-Organically farmed
-Southern exposure and at 400 meters altitude.
-Clay and limestone base before hitting solid rock!
-Aged in older Burgundy barrels

Saint-Véran ‘La Fournaise’ 2014
-From 0.25 ha vineyard – high altitude and steep
-Organically farmed
-Highly calcarous soils
-Aged in order Burgundy barrels
-This is a palate staining, citrusy pure SV

Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Madrigal’ 2014
-From a high altitude, 0.42 ha vineyard in the heart of the greatest terroir in the Maconnias: Vergisson
-Organically farmed
-Clay and limestone site with stones found throughout. The limestone bedrock sits very close.
-Aged in Burgundy barrels (20% new)