A Brilliant and Affordable Burgundy Chardonnay

 Photograph by Michael Pirrocco

The Mâcon region of France is to Burgundy what Staten Island is to New York: It is part of it but apart from it, a backwater with none of the cachet and glamour that other sections of Burgundy enjoy. Mâcon, which is located at the southern tip of Burgundy, offers plenty of rustic charm, but it has long been a source of inexpensive and generally insipid white wines, all made from the chardonnay grape. A handful of wineries produced good stuff, but mostly, Mâcon churned out plonk.

In 1999, however, Dominique Lafon, one of Burgundy’s most acclaimed winemakers, purchased a 35-acre winery in Mâcon and renamed it Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon. To belabor the Staten Island analogy, this was akin to Daniel Boulud opening a restaurant in Todt Hill. But Lafon was looking for a new challenge, and he believed there was great untapped potential in the maligned region. He brought the same methods to Mâcon that he used at Domaine des Comtes Lafon, his flagship estate in Burgundy’s Meursault appellation – biodynamic farming, strictly controlled crop yields, and rigorous grape selection at harvest. The results were impressive right from the start, and the wines have been getting better and better. Lafon now produces a number of different cuvées in Mâcon, and all are reliably stellar. Its just-released 2012 Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon-Villages is another winner. The wine has a strong, palate-whetting lime note, along with a dusty mineral aspect and a whiff of fennel. The fruit is balanced by excellent acidity; there is superb depth of flavor; and the wine has a long, refreshing finish. It is a delicious chardonnay that is even more impressive for being so favorably priced. This has “house wine” written all over it; if you can spring for a case, you should. [$19; wine-searcher.com]