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 Tillesare 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.