Pierre-Antoine Jambon and Michel Prudhon at Domaine Marc Jambon in Pierreclos, Burgundy.

he Jambon family have been winegrowers since the 18th century. But it wasn't until 1996, when Pierre-Antoine Jambon joined the family domaine in Pierreclos in the Mâconnais, that they actually started making wine.

– I said if I were to stay we had to stop working with the co-op. We should make our own wine. I was not interested in growing grapes for somebody else. I arrived here in 1996. 1998 was the last year we delivered grapes to the co-op and in 1999 we built our cuverie.

Domaine Marc Jambon has since grown to cover twelve hectares. The main appellation is Mâcon-Pierreclos, but there is also some aligoté and Pouilly-Vinzelles, as well as a bit of sweet wine. In 2017 Pierre-Antoine Jambon was joined by Michel Prudhon. Together they have focused on vineyard bottling, which in the Mâconnais, where the cooperatives still account for about two thirds of the production, is still not as common as in the Côte d’Or.

– 75 per cent of the domaine is chardonnay, says Michel Prudhon. The rest is to a large extent gamay. There is 0.5 per cent pinot noir, but that is about to change.

– Yes, continues Pierre-Antoine Jambon, the goal is to have 20 per cent gamay, three-four per cent pinot noir and one per cent aligoté.

Mâcon-Pierreclos is a regional appellation. It’s mainly an appellation for white wine, but there are some reds as well. At Domaine Marc Jambon there are two red Mâcon-Pierreclos – Cuvée classique, a blend from several parcels, and La Vernillère – both made from gamay grapes.

– Around here we don’t have vineyards classified as Bourgogne, explains Michel Prudhon. This complicates things a bit if you have some pinot noir. For red Mâcon-Pierreclos you may not use pinot noir. Instead you are left with the Mâcon appellation. Not the best choice if you have a more serious, well-made wine.

The Mâcon appellation, without any attached village name, is often associated with easy-drinking, lesser wines. But being stuck with this appellation for their pinot noir they decided to name the wine after the parcel number in order to make it stand out – Parcelle B 1106.

– The oldest vines there were planted in 2005 and 2007, says Pierre-Antoine Jambon. It’s a bit of clay on top of the rock. Very stony. We use a gentle and slow extraction of colour and aromas. Only remontage and no pigeage. The élevage is long and in barrel.

The red Mâcon-Pierreclos, Cuvée classique, comes from several parcels between Pierreclos and Serrières. In general production of red wines in the Mâconnais is shrinking, mainly because they are made from gamay according to Pierre-Antoine Jambon.

– In people’s minds the gamay is often seen as something negative, says Michel Prudhon. And it’s mainly because of the image of the Beaujolais Nouveau. Over the past ten years there has been some improvements though. You have more and more growers in the Beaujolais turning out good wines.

In white there are four different cuvées of Mâcon-Pierreclos. A fifth is on its way. As in red the Cuvée classique is a blend of several parcels. The others are single vineyards.

– The Cuvée classique mostly comes from parcels with very little soil, says Pierre-Antoine Jambon. These are also places where there is no direct sun after four or five o’clock in the afternoon since it’s below the forest. This means that even on hot days it doesn’t get too warm. For this cuvée 75 per cent of the vines are young.

In terms of vine age the Mâcon-Pierreclos, Terroir de la Roche, is the opposite. Coming from a vineyard above the hamlet of La Roche, where Domaine Marc Jambon is located, only 25 per cent are young vines, with the remaining 75 per cent being from old vines.

– The average age is 50 years, says Pierre-Antoine Jambon. Fermentation is in barrels. There is very little new oak, only three per cent. When I created this cuvée I didn’t want anything vanilla or toasted. I wanted a wine with more fat, a wine that was different from the other cuvées. And since we don’t have any crus at the domaine, except for a little bit of Pouilly-Vinzelles, it had to be from Mâcon-Pierreclos.

– With Michel I have singled out Le Carruge and La Cadole. We work more and more like this because people are asking for it. The only problem with creating new cuvées is that you are taking something away from other cuvées, like the Cuvée classique. You have to be careful there so you don’t destroy something.

All parcels are vinified separately, whether they are going into a blend or not. This means Pierre-Antoine Jambon and Michel Prudhon are well-acquainted with the characteristics of each plot.

– Le Carruge is all about generosity and power, says Michel Prudhon. La Grande Terre is very much about finesse. La Cadole is halfway between the two.

One essential part of the philosophy at Domaine Marc Jambon is the low yields. While up to 60 hl/ha is allowed Pierre-Antoine Jambon and Michel Prudhon prefer to stay at about 45–50 hl/ha.

– It makes a big difference if you lower the yields like that, says Michel Prudhon. It’s essential if you want to make a good wine.

– We’re looking for ripeness. We want our grapes to be very ripe. That’s what you need if you want produce fruity and generous wines. We harvest at late as possible.

The Mâconnais is the only part of Burgundy where you are likely to come across sweet wines. Far from everyone makes them and in Pierreclos the only ones to make any are Domaine Marc Jambon. There is one made from botrytized grapes and one from botrytized and dried grapes. Previously this was allowed within the Mâcon-Pierreclos appellation, but since the 2016 harvest these have to be labelled as Vin de France.

– It’s 100 per cent chardonnay, explains Pierre-Antoine Jambon. I have been making these wines since I arrived at the domaine. My father always talked about this kind of wine. It was something his grandparents used to make. Grapes were bought in order to make an aperitif for the women.

– Sugar levels are very important. We use two or three parcels. Not the same ones every year. It all depend on the weather conditions. In a humid year we use parcels higher up on the slope. In a dry year we go for parcels closer to the river, where you have fog and humidity .

© 2020 Ola Bergman