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Denyse Louis, the "Louis" in Louis/Dressner, knows the Mâconnais well: her family comes from this area and has vineyards with the co-op in Lugny, and Denyse owns a home there. It was a 1986 Mâcon from a small artisan estate that was the revelation and the start for their search for comparable wines from other regions.
Louis/Dressner takes special pride in their selections from the Mâconnais. Some of the local Mâconnais co-ops produce millions and millions of bottles; Jean Manciat’s vineyards can be toured on foot in a few minutes (5.5 hectares). When Manciat took over his family estate, he immediately left the co-op in Charnay. He replanted extensively but kept as many of the old vines as possible. The yields average less than 50 hectoliters/hectare (the co-ops routinely harvest twice as much) and the picking is done by hand (a tradition totally lost around here except at the best Mâcon estates). Manciat prunes his Chardonnay vines in the Côte d’Or fashion (taille Guyot), leaving a shorter cane that is less productive. The Mâconnais style of pruning is to bend a long cane into an arc, but Manciat finds the quality much higher with a shorter cane.
Manciat is also experimenting with various agricultural techniques, such as sowing particular varieties of grass between rows, to eliminate the use of herbicides and alleviate soil erosion. He uses a type of old rootstock which he finds ideally suited to the chalky soil of the Mâconnais and replants with a mix of clones and grafts taken from old vines in the Pouilly-Fuissé area.