Heading due south of Beaune on Route National 6, Burgundy’s own Route 66, is Macon country. And in the village of Cruzille en Maconnais is a gem of a domaine known as Guillot-Broux that makes wines that are not only close in spirit but match those of the famed Cote d’Or to the north.
The Guillot family put roots down in Cruzille over 50 years ago when the current owners’ grandparents, Pierre and Jeannine Guillot started the first organic vineyard in Burgundy, bottling their own wine instead of selling their grapes to the local cooperative that made rather generic Bourgogne blanc and Bourgogne rouge. Their son Jean Gerard expanded the domaine’s hectares, acquiring and planting vineyards ravaged by phylloxera in the late 19th century when the plague ate its way through some of the best vineyards in France and Spain. Today, at 15 hectares, Guillot Broux is run by Emmanuel, Patrice and Ludovic Guillot, the three sons of Jean-Gerard, who are devoted keepers of winemaking traditions, respecting the terroir, producing wines that can only be described as rather stunning.
In the hands of these vignerons, the wines are wonderful personal expressions of chardonnay, gamay and pinot noir. While the three men share responsibilities, it is Emmanuel’s (the former sommelier at the Saint James Club in London) vision as head winemaker that makes these wines rivals to a premier cru from the north. The terroir of Macon differs to that of the Cote d’Or. The gently rolling countryside, dotted with hills, forests and valleys is divided between arable land, grazing for livestock and vineyards, of course. The three brothers strongly believe in respecting the soil, using only organic methods of cultivation that they believe maintain the balance nature is already imbued with.
Les Genievrieres has been classified a Macon Cruzille. A fruity chardonnay, it is redolent of the mineral flavors of the soil of Cruzille: wonderful green apple and citrus hit the palate with hints of a richer end that does not disappoint.
Les Combettes, also chardonnay, but its woody, rich and fuller bodied character is closer in spirit to the Cote d’Or.
Les Perrieres is a long and complex chardonnay. Its myriads of layers allow for nuances give it structure, wonderful backbone that make it a very compelling wine.
Macon Pierrclos is a wonderful expression of Gamay. Fragrant flowers and herbs and damp earth give it character while the first sip is fresh and clean. But one cannot be fooled. It is not as uncomplicated as one might be led to think. And while it may be gamay, it is very different to Beaujolais. There are lots of layers to complexity giving it a grace that one might find in a vibrant young Pinot noir.
La Myotte is the star of the domaine: a very proper red from Burgundy, feminine, elegant, it promises, caresses and ultimately delivers all the way through to a long lingering finish.