Andrew Guard

Mâconnais


Baptiste and Philippe Valette continues on in their father Gerard’s footsteps by producing incredible wines, packed with personality. These wines, like Antoine Arena's or Jean Foillard's, are revered in France and little known outside it.

Valette farms 17 hectares of which 10 hectares are located in Mâcon-Chaintré where the soils are a mix of clay and limestone and the vines are pruned back hard for lower yields - the Valettes do a huge amount of work amongst the vines to maximise the expression of their terroir and Valette's wines are noted for their concentration. In the vineyards Philippe does not use any systemic sprays, herbicides or insecticides. The vines average 45 years over the entire property and we all know what vine age contributes to fine wine.

The grapes are picked fully ripe producing rich but very fresh and mineral wines with fabulous complexity and also great aging potential.

I often find myself in the cellars and homes of the winemakers that we work with and those that we would like to work with and it is interesting to see the bottles that have been kept by them that sit empty in their homes and cellars. I think it would be fair to say that those of Valette have been the most prominent and when remarked upon, his work is respected and adored.

Vinification is all natural: no sulphur, no cultured yeasts, no chaptalization, no acidification - no augmentation at all. Elevage is for twenty-four months on fine lees in tank (20%) and older barrels (80%). The way Philippe Valette works is similar that of Claude Maréchal in the Cote de Beaune which is to say meticulous care of the vineyards and a way of making wine with minimal intervention in a natural manner. The result is extravagant but very elegant Chardonnays. All graceful, delicate and exciting with beautiful fresh acid and without the flatness and boredom that wine from this region can often possess.


 

Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012