2015 Robert-Denogent Macon-Villages Les Sardines

Year: 2015
Appellation: Macon
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 88
Vinous Media: 88
Burghound: 89
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Price :



"The 2015 Mâcon Villages Les Sardines is a relatively new cuvée that was introduced with the 2013 vintage and comes from purchased fruit. The idea is to create a wine more "glou-glou" that is to say, easy-to-drink. It has a lovely, very pure bouquet with hints of almond infusing the citrus fruit. The palate is well balanced with appreciably salinity, fresh and lively with a light marine influence towards the finish. Very fine.

One of my priorities returning to Mâconnais after a such a long time was to revisit one of the best producers of the region: Domaine Robert Denogent. Located in the village of Fuissé just down the road from Château de Fuissé, they tend several parcels within the appellation includes Les Carrons, Les Cras and La Croix. Influenced by Marcel Lapierre and importer Kermit Lynch, since Jean-Jacques began bottling his own wines in the late eighties, the domaine has adopted a biodynamic approach to their old vines. They also commit to a prolonged barrel maturation, so it was no surprise that when I rang their doorbell in May 2017, the 2015s had only just been bottled. (As an aside, I tasted two versions of their 2015 Saint-Véran, one with 24 months élevage and the other 30 months, which was still in barrel. They were conspicuously different). I briefly met Jean-Jacques upon arrival, but his son Nicolas was the one who guided me through the wines. Since I had not been here for a while, I took the opportunity to catch up with wines in barrel, current releases and the 2014s that I should have tasted last year. Nicolas told me that they commenced the harvest on 1 September, expediting the picking because the potential alcohol levels were rising very quickly. "The 2015 is rich but we kept the freshness with good salinity," he opined, whereas he feels that the 2014s are still quite closed and will demand bottle age (a view with which I concur.) The wines from Domaine Robert Denogent are distinctive, beautifully crafted and manage to express their terroir with great clarity. You might assume that the extended time in barrel might dominate the style of the cuvées, perhaps erase some of the nuances of terroir, but they do not impede at all. Part of the reason is that they keep the level of new oak down, which renders them different to say Château de Fuissé, where the level is higher and more prominent within the taste profile. Both domaines produce fine wines but simply adopt different approaches. Within the array of wines that I tasted, some of the domaine's 2014s represent the apex of what the Mâconnais can achieve, wines that would give a top premier cru from the Côte de Beaune a run for its money, even without factoring in prices." (WA)

"Bright medium yellow. Very ripe aromas of candied apple, wild herbs, menthol and fresh almond. Quite ripe, sweet and full for its appellation; slightly aggressive in the style of the vintage but has enough buffering fruit, texture and acidity to maintain its shape through the long finish. Showed some warmth with aeration but avoids the phenolic dryness shown by some 2015s." (VM)

"A distinctly phenolic nose (think olive oil nuances) is composed by notes of petrol, pear and a hint of the exotic. There is excellent vibrancy and richness to the nicely detailed medium weight flavors that display a touch of backend warmth but overall this is most impressive for what it is. Note that it should drink well immediately." (BH)

Winery Notes:
When first tasting the wines of Domaine Robert-Denogent, it is essential to put aside any preconceived notions about the young, over-cropped whites of southern Burgundy. These are wines of a much different class, whose reflection of terroir is one more likely found farther north in the prestigious Côte d’Or. Jean-Jacques Robert took over five hectares of his grandfather’s vines in the Mâconnais just outside the village of Fuissé after finishing law school in 1988. Though most of the harvest had always been sold off to the cooperatives, the small parcels that made up the domaine were already understood to enjoy unique microclimates, producing Pouilly-Fuissés of great pedigree. Jean-Jacques soon came under the influence of two ardent defenders of terroir, the great master of Morgon, Marcel Lapierre, and American importer, Kermit Lynch. Little by little, Jean-Jacques has introduced radical changes to the domaine (while staying faithful to his grandfather’s wisdom about the complexity of the land), finally realizing its full potential. He is now joined by his son, Nicolas.

The Roberts’ individual vineyard parcels are planted with old vines (remarkably so!) on varied soils of granite, schist, limestone, clay, and gravel. Naturally reduced yields imbue the grapes with terrific concentration. The wines undergo a long, slow élévage in barrel that lasts anywhere from fifteen to eighteen months. They are bottled after two winters in barrel, a treatment more common (yet still far from the norm) in the Côte d’Or, and something that really sets them apart in the Mâconnais. At a fraction of the price of the appellations of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, to which they are often compared by aficionados and critics alike, the wines of Robert-Denogent offer tremendous value, wonderful richness, and impressive complexity. An added attraction for some—they age sooner than their counterparts to the north.