Céline & Laurent Tripoz
The bedrock of the Mâconnais is the continuation of the Jurassic strata found in the Côte d’Or and it is here that the finest whites of southern Burgundy are found. Whilst there may be a geological relationship between this area and its more northerly cousin, the countryside is markedly different. This is a region of undulating wood-capped hills where vines are planted alongside sweet chestnuts, acacias, cherry trees, cattle and goats. With around 9,000 growers having less than 2ha of vines, polyculture is much more prevalent here than in the Côte d’Or.
There are 43 villages in the Mâconnais which currently have the right to attach their name to the AOC Mâcon. Domaine Tripoz has vines in two of these: Loché and Vinzelles. These villages are found in a range of hills which stretches from Sennecey-le-Grand in the north to Fuissé in south. Here one finds the whole spread of different Burgundian terroirs. To the west the high granite hills protect the vineyards from the westerly winds. The preponderance of limestone and clay-limestone in this region produces classy wines with great keeping potential. In some areas there are higher concentrations of silica, which give very fine wines.
Domaine Tripoz is certified Biodynamic and in addition to that the vineyard work is much what one would expect from a quality-conscious estate: severe pruning, de-budding and leaf-plucking (exclusively on the side facing the rising sun). Green harvesting is only employed however when deemed absolutely necessary. The harvest date is timed to ensure that the grapes are brought in at optimum maturity, thus avoiding the need for any “additions” later on in the winemaking process. The bunches are collected in cases which are taken directly to the cellar to encourage as little damage to the grapes as possible - and by extension as little oxidation - prior to pressing. It should also be noted that in keeping with their non-interventionist philosophy, additions of sulphur are kept to a strict minimum in the cellar.
I discovered these terrific wines two years ago whilst sitting in a restaurant (Caves Madeleine) in Beaune waiting for a friend to join me. I thought I’d have a glass of white whilst I waited and so chose a glass of the Mâcon-Vinzelles from Tripoz. Fresh, vigorous, precise and detailed with none of the ’orangey’ flavour, oaky richness or simple fatness that often turns me away from the Mâconnais. I noted them as an address to visit and so I went to meet them this year. Their house, winery, bottling line and cellar are all under the same roof right opposite the town hall in the sleepy village of Loché, about 10 minutes south of the main town of Macon. It gets said a lot but you really couldn’t meet nicer people.