A few decades ago, in a small, local vigneron hangout in the Beaujolais, Kermit and Henri Perrusset met rather serendipitously. There weren’t enough tables in the restaurant and the hostess seated Kermit with Henri, who was just finishing up his meal. Their conversation blossomed, and Henri invited Kermit to visit and taste his first vintage. We have been buying these delicious, distinctive Chardonnays ever since. For decades, the Mâconnais has been dominated by the banal bottlings of cooperative cellars; not the sort of quality that leads novices to explore the wines of the region. But at the same time, Henri Perrusset has been working his vineyards by hand, reducing his yields to improve grape quality, all while offering us very reasonable prices.
Henri Perrusset’s vineyards and home are located in the small town of Farges-les-Mâcon, on the northernmost spur of the limestone subsoil that characterizes the appellation of Mâcon. Farges is not far away from the village named (believe it or not) Chardonnay. The limestone in Farges is more marly than the compact limestone farther south in Pouilly-Fuissé. It is hard and intensely white, but breaks apart into small pieces and it is loaded with quartz and marine fossils as well. This type of soil is easier to work despite all the stones, provides great drainage for the vines, and gives the wines their grainy minerality. Our Mâcon-Farges bottling comes uniquely from a parcel of old vines, while the Mâcon-Villages is a custom blend of all his other holdings around Farges. These are Chardonnays with the ripeness and intensity level of a Pouilly-Fuissé or even a Saint-Aubin, with the particular goût de terroir of Henri’s corner of Mâcon.