Beaujolais Villages Blanc Jean-Marc Burgaud 2020
Suitable for Vegans: Yes
Food pairing: Leek risotto, roast veal with girolle mushrooms.
Jean-Marc Burgaud was recently dubbed ‘Monsieur Côte du Py’ by Bourgogne Aujourd’hui magazine. His fine domaine has seven hectares of vineyard on the Côte du Py in Morgon, 4.5 hectares of which are situated right at the summit, making the Burgaud family the biggest owner of vines on this famous hill. The vines were planted between 1940 and 1974 with a massal selection, and are all gobelet trained and planted at high density – “Gamay needs high density to reduce its natural vigour,” says Jean-Marc. He is obsessed with the quality of the fruit, so only uses grapes from his own estate. The fruit, coupled with what he calls ’la vraie vinification Beaujolaise’, account for the quality and style of these striking wines that has led many to call this the finest domaine in Beaujolais.
Jean-Marc is originally from Lantignié, where he has 4.5 hectares of Beaujolais Villages vineyards. His wife, Christine, is from Morgon, and the 11.5 hectares in Morgon were inherited from her side of the family. “My father used to tell me that Lantignié produced the best Beaujolais, but when I first met Christine, her father opened a 20-plus-year-old bottle of Côte du Py for me and that opened my eyes to the potential of Beaujolais,” he explains.
Today, the domaine has 18 hectares of vineyards across three appellations. His Beaujolais Villages is a masterclass in balance. According to Jean-Marc, a good Beaujolais must be made from ripe grapes so the tannins are mature, must be macerated long enough to extract these tannins but not so long that you begin to extract green tannins, so the fermenting wine has to be tasted every day to judge when the tannins are right and in balance with the acid. There are no set recipes here: it is a judgement based on an intimate knowledge of the grapes and the winemaking. “We don’t make wine with computers, we do wine by hand!” he states emphatically.
The Chardonnay grapes for Jean-Marc’s Beaujolais Villages Blanc come from a one hectare site on clay soil in Lantignié. The Gamay previously planted here didn’t produce the sort of wines Jean-Marc was looking for and he decided it would be better suited to Chardonnay, so in 2010 replanted the vineyard. This unoaked Beaujolais Blanc is expressive with notes of citrus and stone fruits on the nose. The palate is bright and lively with racy acidity giving this wine wonderful freshness.
The grapes were vinified in the gravity-fed winery. The berries were pressed without destemming and fermented with wild yeasts in seasoned casks of one to three years, at temperatures of 16 to 18°C. Maturation took place on the lees in 400 litre French oak barrels of one to three years’ use, with stirring four to five times to impart complexity. Maturation lasted for 12 months, concluding just before the next harvest.