Christie Kiley on June 29, 2015 0 Comments I am back in Belgium, here to catch the late and lovely European spring air before I head off to France for some road-tripping adventures–which will surely involve some wine and great food. However, before I leave Belgium, I plan to make a dinner for some chef friends here in Antwerp. There will be five courses, complete with menu orchestration and wine pairings. Though a lively and friendly bunch, these are some people to impress. One of my menu items will be a sea trout, caught by a local, in-house fisherman, along with some mussels and clams cooked and steamed with a bit of garlic, onion and bouquet garni. After a couple hours of pouring over a potential wine list, I found this lovely gem fit for the course of sea trout and shellfish: the Cave de Mâcon-Lugny Les Charmes 2013 Chardonnay. I did a little research on this wine, and was pleasantly surprised when I tasted it for myself. History of Cave de Mâcon-Lugny This winery first began making fine wines in the 18th century, up and until the devastation and destruction of their vineyards due to phylloxera from 1880 to 1887. Eventually, they were able to regain their 500 hectares of healthy growing land again. In 1927, the second cooperative was created in the Mâconnais region. The modest building of the time was built of stones from the local quarries, with cement tanks and the best winemaking equipment of the time. The cooperative had almost immediate success due to their collaborations with the neighboring villages and winemaking regions of Burgy, Cruzille, Chardonnay, Montbellet and Bissy-la-Mâconnaise, to name a few. In 1966, Mâcon-Lugny joined up with Saint-Gengoux-de-Scissé. This partnership became the first cooperative of designated appellations to be recognized as a union via the French Minister of Agriculture. With this union, they were able to modernize the facility and how they could better elaborate their white wines. Today, after being joined with another neighboring village of Chardonnay, they are now the biggest cooperative in all of Burgundy. They are also the top producer of Mâconnais wines and of Burgundy. The Vineyards The main fruit of Cave de Mâcon-Lugny is Chardonnay with around 1,200 hectares, followed by Pinot Noir, Gamay and Aligoté. The level at which they hold their growing standards through their cooperative became the forerunner of some of the most strict and sustainable practices of the region. During harvest, there are strict rules of when and how the grapes are harvested and they are only picked at peak ripeness. Throughout the growing season, there are also limits on the use of any chemical treatments on all of their plots. The care continues from vineyard to cellar. Their winery is set up so as to keep each appellation separate during the vinification process. Mâcon-Lugny is responsible for the making of white wines and equipped to create wines of artisanal nature and quality. The grapes are harvested by hand and gently pressed in a pneumatic press. The juices are then sent off to their fermentation tank. Fermented only in stainless steel, the fermentation is kept at a slow pace for about three to four weeks at 60 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Once fermentation is completed, the wine is separated from the lees and left to age for a few months in stainless steel with occasional stirring of the lees that “fall out” during the aging process. Malolactic fermentation is completed for the entire batch to give the wines more structure and body. In the case of this Chardonnay, it was only aged in stainless steel to help keep its lovely fruit notes and freshness. The Wine Now on with the wine! If you do happen to have some sea trout or shellfish on hand, the Mâcon-Lugny Chardonnay makes for a perfect pairing. On the nose, the wine was incredibly aromatic, with notes of apples and butter about to baked into an apple crisp. There are also strong notes of tangerine and citrus blossom. The body of the wine is light-to-medium. The first sip is silky and very elegant with notes of peaches and cream and ripe pears. The finish remains silky with a hint of minerality and soft acidity. The Cave de Mâcon-Lugny Les Charmes 2013 Chardonnay is a very lovely wine and a perfect summer Chardonnay.