Our society celebrates brashness, but frankly, I’ve had enough. I’ll spare you a political rant in exchange for an observation that occurred to me this week: my fatigue over loudness has now manifest itself in the tastes I am pursuing. Spice as well as richness have dwindling appeal for me. I haven’t had red meat in months, and while I haven’t dined at a fancy restaurant in that time either, I don’t really miss the fuss, the artfully staged plates, or the showmanship.
And the wines I’m avoiding? Yep: they’re all high alcohol, hefty and obvious in what they say. Wines that whisper, however, are the wines I want to keep uncorking. Maybe this unbearable year of bad news has simply conjured a mood to turn the volume down, to find space in my head to roam without limitation.
And perhaps that’s why I found Domaine Guillot-Broux’s “Les Combettes” Mâcon-Chardonnay to be so appealing this week. Here was a wine that shyly emerged from its cocoon over the course of an hour, eventually revealing beautiful aromas slyly suggesting ginger and clove overlaying crisp pear and pineapple. There was nothing simple about it, yet nothing audacious about it either. In a mass tasting, it would get lost — like a camouflaged octopus you wouldn’t notice while snorkeling, your eyes too enticed by the colorful schools of fish. But on a quiet evening alone with room to breathe, it was utterly cherished.
I’ve been fond of this organic Mâconnais estate for some time, and have decided to elevate them to my Essential Winemakers of France list. Both the domaine and the maison (an affiliated négociant house) make supremely subtle yet playful and fun wines. In fact, I nearly devoted this column to their Bourgogne Rouge “Les Genièvrières” (★★★★ 3/4) — a jolly gastronomic Pinot Noir of surprising complexity — but “Les Combettes” had a more emotional pull.
Perhaps you are also tired of being shouted at. Give a quiet wine like this a try. You might hear yourself think once again.
2017 Domaine Guillot-Broux “Les Combettes” Mâcon-Chardonnay
Mâcon-Chardonnay AOC (Bourgogne)
Grapes: Chardonnay (100%)
Opinion: ★★★★ 3/4 (out of five)
• Food-friendliness: Impeccable
• Value: Exceptional
A beginner might like … The price. The Mâconnais, along with the Côte Chalonnaise, is among Burgundy’s most affordable regions, yet the craft that goes into these wines is unmistakably Burgundian. To buy a Chardonnay of this quality from California, for example, you’d be spending in the $50 range at least. This one hovers in the mid-$40s.
A wine obsessive might like … The subtlety, as noted above. In addition to the aromas that shift like ghostly vapors, the wine’s acidity is very exact: not eager or sharp, yet lithe and purposeful.
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