by Fred McMillin
for September 25, 1997
The Giant of Macon
Prologue: Three centuries ago the largest winegrower in Macon was one Pierre Brosse, so large that when kneeling in his vineyard he still was as tall as the workers standing beside him. However, Pierre was worried since demand for Macon wines was very weak. Hence, this enormous man loaded two barrels of his best onto an ox-cart for the difficult, dangerous trip to Paris. Weeks later he reached Versailles, parked close to the Palace, and went to mass at the royal chapel.
The King was curious about the visitor who appeared to be standing when all others were kneeling. Hence, he was brought before the Ruler, served a sample from one of the casks, and the Paris market for Maconnais Chardonnay was established.
The Rest of the Story—A Maconnais Primer:
Les Charmes (sharm) is a 98-acre vineyard near Lugny, exceptional for two reasons. It has a grape-friendly southern exposure, and some of the vines are reaching their one hundredth birthday. Consequently, the fruit has an intensity about as huge as Pierre's physique.
Postscript: Two centuries ago an American was impressed as he rode through the Maconnais and wrote, "This is the richest country I ever beheld...they have a method of mixing beautifully the culture of vines, trees and corn." His name was Thomas Jefferson.
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