WINE OF THE WEEK.  ST. VERAN 2012. Domaine Michel Chavet. £10.99 at WineRack.


Just the mention of white Burgundy brings a big fat French price tag to mind. That’s because wines from the world famous vineyards of Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, in the Cotes de Beaune, (the hills of Beaune) are simply amazing and regulars in the Fine Wine section of your local wine shop. By the way, located smack in the centre of France, Beaune’s a beautiful ‘must-see’ town even if you’re not a wine nut. ‘Some brilliant restaurants too!

The trouble is, you could shell out 30 quid plus for a Top Johnny white Burgundy and be totally under-whelmed. I was in the pub recently and a mate told me he loved white Burgundy but was a bit short of cash, “any ideas”, he smiled. He was surprised when I answered “yes”. To chop the price the first thing you need to do is slide down to the lesser known vineyards south of Beaune.

Pulling a bottle from the Chalonnais, (around the town of Chalon), or  the Maconnais, (surprise, surprise, around Macon) from the shelf you’ll find yourself in the happy £13-19 price bracket. In case you’re wondering, like the rest of Burgundy the white grape is still Chardonnay. Oh, and if you’re looking for a holiday with a difference, you could do far worse than sipping your way through these green, peaceful rolling vineyards.

Look out for the villages of Montagny, Rully, Mercurey and Givry in the Chalonnais and what I call the ‘Pouilly’ villages in the Maconnais. The apple citrus, butterscotch-touched aromas and flavours, topped with a light toasty finish will bring a smile to your face and, you’ll get a handful of change from a twenty quid note.

The most famous ‘Pouilly’ village is Fuisse but just up the road, nestling amongst the rolling limestone-rich vineyards, the neighbouring picturesque villages of Vire, Clesse, Vinzelles and Loche are all well worth checking out. Just for the record, Vinzelles and Loche are allowed to put ‘Pouilly’ in front of their name on the label whilst Vire and Clesse come together as Vire-Clesse having once paraded individually as Macon-Vire and Macon-Clesse.

Whilst we’re talking about this neck of the Burgundian woods, don’t forget Saint-Veran from the commune of Saint-Verand for value; Saint-Veran 2013, carries a reasonable £10.99 tag (reduced from £12.49) at your local Wine Rack at the moment. And of course, just up the road, the village vineyards of Lugny produce the popular wines of Macon-Lugny.

As you can see, the wines of the Chalonnais and Maconnais will save you at least a fiver, often a tenner, on a famed Cote D’Or vin blanc.  OK., the whites of the Chalonnais and Maconnais may not have the ummph or complexity of the great Cotes de Beaune whites but they rarely let your taste buds down.

If you’re still feeling flush in these post election times, splash out on a bottle of Meursault,  Chassagne-Montrachet or Puligny-Montachet, and compare it to one of the Southern Belles; you may be surprised. ‘Drinking white Burgundy with friends and saving a few bob at the same time, not a bad way of spending the warm June evenings promised in the latest forecasts.