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by Fred McMillin
for February 09, 2000


It Takes a Village


Prologue

"The Macon-Villages Blanc appellation is the single-most-important wine in the Maconnais. The producing region encompasses 43 of what are considered the finest villages..." "Most growers are too small to make and bottle wine, and instead sell their Chardonnay grapes to negociants..."

(Prof. John Baxevanis, Wines of Eastern France)


The Rest of the Story

Emperor Domatian knew Rome had made a mistake. The Empire's legionaires had organized winemaking near today's Macon and other parts of Burgundy. But the wines were so good, they were reducing consumption of Rome's own wines. Hence, in 89 A.D. he ordered the systemtic destruction of those French vineyards.

However, in time the vines reappeared, and today we can enjoy very affordable Macon-Villages. My panel just tasted a good one...100% Chardonnay not masked with heavy oak.

Chef Champagne
Chef Champagne
His Creation

Chef Champagne's creation.


Wine of the Day

1998 Chardonnay "Tradition", Saint-Louis
Appellation—Macon-Villages (vee-lahj)
By Barton & Guestier
Panel's Comments—"Apple," "Crisp," "Some minerals"
Rating—RECOMMENDED
Contact—Philipa Jones or Angela Freire, (707) 255-7667 FAX (707) 255-1119
Price—$8 range, a real deal


Postscript—A Giant Sales Pitch

The congregation was kneeling. One member was so huge that even kneeling, from a distance it looked like he was standing. The year was about 1660 and the church was the Royal Chapel in Paris. The giant was Pierre Brosse from near Macon.

A curious observer got in touch with him, and asked his vocation. He was selling wine from the virtually unknown area of Macon. So, the observer tried the wine, declared it exceptional and placed a big order.

The Paris market for Macon wines was established, for the new customer was the King of France!


Another Postscript

A Gastronomic Curiosity—Some years ago when my wife and I were exploring the wines of the region, we lunched at the Hotel Bellevue in Macon. Chef-owner Andre Champagne (pictured), bought the hotel in 1923, and created a dessert which he served us proudly, delicious cookies in the shape of hollow cylinders (pictured).  
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 



This page created February 2000

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