Verget

Brimming with Class: 2022 White Burgundy from a “Reference Point for the Mâconnais” [Kelley]
Verget

We’re visiting our growers in Burgundy later this month, which will give us a clearer view of the style and quality of the 2022 vintage. For now, if our tasting of Verget’s wines in Australia last week may act as an early barometer, the omens look very good indeed. Assessing the season on paper, it’s easy to imagine the resulting wines might be dominated by the warm, dry conditions and late August harvest. But Burgundy isn’t written on paper, just as all producers are not created equal. Julien Desplans, Jean-Marie Guffens’ fastidious winemaker—whose CV includes Château Palmer and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti—told us, “The grapes were perfectly healthy, the aromatic maturity very beautiful and the sugar/acidity balance not far from perfection.” In terms of style, Desplans sees 2022 as like a hybrid of 2017 and 2019. Should that be a case of enough said?

In a year when ripeness and fruit concentration were never going to be a problem, freshness and vibrancy are key features here, in part because the grapes retained high levels of tartaric acid, as they did in 2020. Then there are the idiosyncratic methods in the cellar, which include the use of higher acid free-run juices, a modified Champagne press, and high solids and reductive lees—all scrupulously managed to capture precision, volume and vibrancy. “Terroir is one thing, but it’s not the only thing” harks Guffens. “In the Mâconnais, we are the creators of free wine.”

In short, 2022 is a classic Verget vintage that highlights this producer's ambition to craft wines of purity, layered silky depth, energy and balance. While prices have risen over the years—less than most, we might add—we believe all the wines offer superb value in today’s climate. “For the same price as a bottle of wine from the Côte d’Or you can have six bottles of a good Mâconnais,” quips Jean-Marie Guffens. In this case, you can make that six bottles of great Mâconnais.

The Wines

Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Les Combes Vieilles Vignes 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Les Combes Vieilles Vignes 2022

Located in Solutré-Pouilly, Les Combes is one of Jean-Marie Guffen’s favourite vineyards, a bias that makes perfect sense when you see the vineyard and taste the wines. The oldest vines were planted in 1915 and face north. Another parcel of vines, a mere 70 years old, faces south. Each parcel is picked and vinified separately before blending. Guffens maintains that the resulting whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Incidentally, the soils here are clay and limestone with a higher proportion of clay than most in this area (bringing power), and it’s therefore one of the few Verget wines to be fermented entirely in oak barrels (only 25% new). Having said that, the wine only spends seven months in cask before settling in tank.

 Year in and year out, Les Combes is one of the crown jewels in the Verget stable, and the marvellous 2022 is no different. This year, Guffens picked his low-lying parcel early to maintain acidity and used a smaller proportion of the fruit from the riper, south-facing parcel to further retain structure and freshness. A statement in balanced power, old-vine density and freshness, expect all kinds of fleshy orchard fruit and citrus oil, subtle hints of wood spice flint and smoke and a super-long, driven close. This may need some time to harmonise, but it is clearly a class apart.

“The 2022 Pouilly-Fuissé Les Combes Vieilles Vignes was picked in three "tries"—that's to say, successive passages through the vineyard selecting only the ripest fruit. Revealing aromas of pear, toasted nuts, citrus zest, white flowers, beeswax and nutmeg, it's medium to full-bodied, with a satiny attack that segues into an elegantly fleshy palate built around racy acids and concluding with a long, saline finish.”
94 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Les Combes Vieilles Vignes 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Grands Terroirs Oubliés 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Grands Terroirs Oubliés 2022

Oubliés means forgotten, and this wine is a blend of vineyards that, contrary to Jean-Marie Guffen’s opinion, were not included in Pouilly-Fuissé’s 2020 1er Cru classification. It includes fruit from La Côte and Les Croux—as well as a part of Haut de Roche in Vergisson and Les Vernays and Sur la Fontaine from Fuissé. All are high-altitude terroirs with western or northern exposures and are sites that Guffens believes represent “the future of Burgundy wines in the face of global warming”. Let’s see who has the last laugh.

 A quarter of the juice was aged in new oak, and it was raised for seven months in barrel. A beautifully tailored palate combines silky suppleness, a lick of sweet spice and fine energy, tapering to a chalk-infused finish.

“The 2022 Pouilly-Fuissé Grands Terroirs Oubliés is elegant and charming, bursting with aromas of pear, freshly baked bread, toasted nuts and white flowers. Medium-bodied, satiny and pure, it's a bright, fleshy wine that will show well on release.”
91 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Grands Terroirs Oubliés 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Le Haut de la Roche 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Le Haut de la Roche 2022

Located on the Roche de Vergisson, this exceptional vineyard missed out on Premier Cru status solely due to its altitude of 400 metres. Regardless, with its southeast exposure and stony limestone base, Jean-Marie Guffens considers the site far more worthy of the classification than many of the Mâcon’s new Premiers Crus. (Particularly considering global warming and the public’s thirst for fresher wines with lower alcohol.) The vines here were harvested at the very end of the vintage, with low yields bringing a marvellous core of compact fruit offset by a spine of ripe minerality and crunchy freshness. Vinified entirely in oak with 25% new barrels, it possesses excellent (1er Cru!) intensity and length, silky texture and tension, with a long, palate-scraping finish.

“The 2022 Pouilly-Fuissé Le Haut de la Roche is one of the highlights of the range, offering up aromas of pear, confit citrus, buttered popcorn, beeswax and white flowers, followed by a medium to full-bodied, racy and incisive palate that remains cool and saline despite the warm vintage.”
92 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Le Haut de la Roche 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Terres de Pierres 2022
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Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Terres de Pierres 2022

Not be confused with the Mâcon-Villages of the same name (Verget releases multiple cuvées under the name Terres de Pierres, which means ‘stony land’), this cuvée is a blend of both free-run and press juices from a rollcall of excellent vineyards in Vergisson and Fuissé. Les Croux (exposed to the west) and the pressed juices of the Premier Crus Sur la Roche and Les Crays bring the cool, mineral line; the south-facing vines in Les Moulins and Les Littes contribute density and layered texture. So, you get both the steel and the silk. The wines fermented naturally and aged in stainless steel vats (70%) and used barrels for six months without stirring. The most steely and compact wine so far, it’s a wonderfully composed white Burgundy with citrus and mineral notes, a rocky, tightly wound texture and a piercing, long, chalk-drenched finish. It’s a wine of great class. Wine writer Gerald Asher once said: “If luxury is never cheap, pleasure need not be expensive.” So, if the price of top Meursault and Puligny leaves you giddy, you know what to do. This wine’s typical depth, power and complexity will be revealed with time. It is still a pleasure to drink now, but three-plus years of aging would be ideal.

Verget Pouilly-Fuissé Terres de Pierres 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos Lieu Secret 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos Lieu Secret 2022

This wine is made from three parcels of vines that touch Domaine Guffens-Heynen’s legendary Chavigne vineyard. The exact location remains a secret as Jean-Marie doesn’t want his neighbour to sell these grapes to anyone but him! This year, the vines were harvested in several passages to obtain perfect ripeness from each vine. It was vinified in barrels with 25% new oak, and, in this case, stirring was carried out “thanks to the exceptional state of the lees”. The result is, as you might expect from a master of this terroir, a wine of great density and power with a lingering finish of candied citrus peel and chalky minerals. This is simply a marvellous wine.

“Another of the portfolio's highlights is the 2022 Mâcon-Pierreclos Lieu Sécret, a racy and precise wine that offers up aromas of pear, hazelnuts, white flowers and freshly baked bread. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and incisive, with a chalky, penetrating finish, it has turned out well.”
92 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos Lieu Secret 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos En Tremblay 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos En Tremblay 2022

A lieu-dit of the great Mâcon-Pierreclos, En Tremblay is located at the highest part of the village of Pierreclos, on the clay plateau carpeted by countless pierrailles or small stones. Only the old vines were selected this year, and the wine was raised in 20% new wood. Juicy and comparatively forward in style, expect quince and vine peach notes before an impressive core of crunchy fruit and flecks of baking spices bolstering the long, tangy and fine finish. Guffens prefers this vintage to his 2021, noting a pleasant level of reduction and almost tannic structure that will pair well at the table.

“The 2022 Mâcon-Pierreclos En Tremblay retains a cool profile despite the warm vintage, delivering notes of pear, clear honey, orange oil and nutmeg, followed by a medium to full-bodied, satiny and precise palate, concluding with a saline finish.”
90 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos En Tremblay 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos 2022

Sitting at the crossroads between the Mâconnais and Beaujolais, Mâcon-Pierreclos owes its fame to Jean-Marie Guffens, whose wines under the Guffens-Heynen label (mainly from the Le Chavigne lieu-dit) match the best of the Côte de Beaune for intensity and character. So, it’s great to see this vineyard now appear under the Verget label. This négoce bottling is made from low-yielding vines over 50 years old.

The vines are sited on particularly rich limestone at the top of the hillside. Made from first pressings only and matured in foudres for eight months before bottling in June 2023, the result is an alluring, balanced white Burgundy showing notes of citrus peel and poached pear set against a zippy, zesty core of fruit. There is a hint of good reduction here, just a touch of struck match that adds complexity to the fruit.

Verget Mâcon-Pierreclos 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Bussières Vignes de Montbrison 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Bussières Vignes de Montbrison 2022

The Mâcon-Bussières vineyard is north of the stunning Roche de Vergisson, directly below the village of the same name. It sits on a gentle southeast-facing slope, where the shallow soil is predominantly clay and limestone with plentiful stones. Verget’s bottling comes from one of the oldest plots of vines in this vineyard (over 40 years). Again, only free-run juices were used and fermentation occurred entirely in wood. It was Jean-Marie Guffens who claimed no wine is over-oaked, just under-fruited, and the seasoning here (25% new) is judged to perfection. A class act from beginning to end, it’s pure, layered and fleshy, with a refined, silken texture and lovely tension. This would easily slip into a tasting of more expensive wines from the Côte-d’Or.

“Reliably a highlight of the Verget portfolio, the 2022 Mâcon-Bussières Vignes de Montbrison offers up aromas of pear, white flowers, hazelnuts and freshly baked bread, followed by a medium-bodied, satiny and charming palate, girdled by lively acids and concluding with a saline finish."
90 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Mâcon-Bussières Vignes de Montbrison 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Charnay Clos Saint-Pierre 2022
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Verget Mâcon-Charnay Clos Saint-Pierre 2022

Clos Saint-Pierre lies on the south-facing slopes of the Mont du Mâconnais, where soils are varied but limestone is prevalent. Harvested in the last week of August, the free-fun juices fermented in used barrels until the end of November. Maturation took place in used oak barrels for eight months. One of the more seductive wines in Verget’s 2022 portfolio, it’s gloriously dense with layers of fleshy white fruit, red apple and biscuity flavours before a long finish that lingers on the palate without a hint of heaviness.

“The 2022 Mâcon-Charnay Clos Saint-Pierre offers up aromas of pear, crisp white peach, flowers and pastry cream, followed by a medium-bodied, satiny and lively palate with attractive purity of fruit and a mouthwateringly saline finish.”
90 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Mâcon-Charnay Clos Saint-Pierre 2022
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Verget Bourgogne Grand Élevage Blanc 2022
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Verget Bourgogne Grand Élevage Blanc 2022

This year’s Grand Élevage is drawn mainly from the village of Péronne between Viré and Azé, with a complement from Mâcon-Pierreclos. This wine was vinified entirely in oak, with 15% new barrels. Raised for eight months on its lees, it’s a compelling Bourgogne for the price. Inviting and aromatic, it opens with juicy yellow orchard fruits lifted by notes of lemon, stone and white flowers. The palate is lithe and detailed with fleshy fruits, underscored by mouthwatering freshness and a nip of phenolics. Fine length, too. According to winemaker Julien Desplans, the 2022 “is certainly one of the best Bourgogne-level wines we have produced at Verget.” We’re not going to disagree.

“The 2022 Bourgogne Blanc Grand Élevage shows promise, delivering scents of pear, orange zest, toasted nuts and white flowers, followed by a medium-bodied, rich and satiny palate that's attractively pure and precise.”
88 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Verget Bourgogne Grand Élevage Blanc 2022
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Verget Bourgogne Terres de Pierres 2022
Verget Bourgogne Terres de Pierres 2022
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Verget Bourgogne Terres de Pierres 2022

This cuvée is a blend of two great terroirs of the Mâconnais: Mâcon-Charnay and Viré-Clessé. These particular wines do not strike Verget as especially Mâconnais in style, so the blend is bottled under the Bourgogne appellation. In terms of the winemaking, all the wines are vinified in mature oak, and the lees are not stirred ‘so as not to mask the natural freshness of the wine’. With notes of yellow stone fruits, beeswax and sweet summer florals, it’s a fuller, more powerful wine than the Mâcon Villages. In short, it is a delicious, straight-shooting Bourgogne with a nice kernel twist on the enveloping finish. Again, this is a great drink and offers superb value.

Verget Bourgogne Terres de Pierres 2022
Verget Bourgogne Terres de Pierres 2022
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Verget Mâcon Villages Terres de Pierres 2022
Verget Mâcon Villages Terres de Pierres 2022
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Verget Mâcon Villages Terres de Pierres 2022

As always, there is serious bang for your buck on offer here. This year’s Terres de Pierres (rocky soil) is drawn from a blend of sources located around the communes of Viré-Clessé and Charnay on Mâcon’s classic argilo-calcaire soils. Then, 20% from the shallow, stony terroirs of Pierreclos, Vergisson and Bussières brings a chalky spine into the mix. As always, the wine is mostly crafted from free-run juice, fermented and then matured on its fine lees (for four months with no bâtonnage) in horizontal stainless-steel tanks—designed to maximise interaction between the wine and its lees. It’s classic Verget: supple and athletic with ripe apple and hazelnut skin aromas working with chalky limestone notes, citrus oils, impressive drive and length and lovely balance. Hard to beat for the price.

Verget Mâcon Villages Terres de Pierres 2022
Verget Mâcon Villages Terres de Pierres 2022
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“Jean-Marie Guffens’s Verget label continues to be a reference point for the Mâconnais. The best cuvées very much belong among the Mâconnais's élite, but this portfolio is also rich with terrific values to purchase by the case that would make ideal daily drinkers or by-the-glass pours. Classy but keenly priced white Burgundy isn't easy to come by these days, so we should all be thankful for the Maison Verget. These wines come warmly recommended.” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate



“Guffens does not need a prestigious vineyard—just give him some decent vines with decent terroir and he will turn out a delicious and occasionally profound wine.” Neal Martin, Vinous

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