As we noted a few years ago when we first recommended Cave de Lugny, chardonnay from its ancestral homeland, Burgundy, is not a French white that typically falls into the value category. But in our continuing series on crisper summer whites, we turn to the more elegant French style for the world’s most popular wine.
“The French may have many faults as a wine-producing nation, be it genuflecting in Robert Parker’s direction or refusing to acknowledge the 21st century,” noted our favorite wine blogger, The Wine Curmudgeon, in February when he last recommended Cave de Lugny. “But they still make the world’s best chardonnay — even grocery store chardonnay.”
And he doesn’t use the term “grocery store chardonnay” pejoratively. He just means it literally. The wines are produced in such volume and they’re so widely distributed that they can be found in grocery stores that sell wine. (Safeway, Giant Food, Whole Foods and Harris Teeter all carry them in Virginia and the District.)
Cave de Lugny is one of southern Burgundy’s largest and most modern cooperatives – comprised of over 250 wine-growing estates and 1,500 hectares of vines in the Mâcon region. And it produces a pair of whites that are consistently good and widely available for $12 to $15 or less (sometimes much less, like the sale at Pearson’s a few years back for $7.99 a bottle). The Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages is a blend chardonnay from different estates, while for a few dollars more the Mâcon-Lugny “Les Charmes” ($12.99 at Calvert Woodley and only $10.99 at Corridor Wine & Spirits) is made from grapes grown at a single vineyard on a plateau named “Les Charmes” in the commune of Lugny.
Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages 2009 was The Curmudgeon’s Wine of the Week in February, when he bought it for $11 and noted it is “almost unoaked, with some green apple and citrus at the front.
“If the mineral finish is a bit thin, it’s not unpleasant like so many California grocery store chardonnays, which reek of fake oak and other winemaker manipulation,” he added.
The Curmudgeon notes, “I especially like the Les Charmes, though it’s not $11 any more,” Yet single-vineyard Mâcon-Lugny “Les Charmes” is still $10.99 at Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel, and only a few dollars more at a variety of wine shops – and grocery stores – around town. (See slideshow for a sample of prices in DC, Maryland and Virginia.)
Compare prices and find Cave de Lugny wines online or at a store near you nationwide.
These are two more whites likely to make the Wine for the Rest of Us list of Top 5 French Whites (stay tuned). Try a bottle and you might find a go-to summer white wine for years to come.
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