Affordable Burgundy Chardonnay: Maison Trenel 2021 Mâcon-Villages white wine
Affordable Burgundy Chardonnay: Maison Trenel 2021 Mâcon-Villages white wine

At Maison Trenel, A Chardonnay That Refreshes

500 Words (Or So) on Something Lean, Bright and Affordable

4 min read

Not every wine is a home run, nor do they need to be. Sometimes, they just have to get on base and extend the inning. I’ve been abusing this baseball metaphor for years on Opening a Bottle, not because I’m obsessed with baseball — I can hardly sit through an inning myself — but because there really is something to this metaphor. For one, a vast majority of wines people seek out for a vast majority of their meals do not require proper stemware, in-depth analysis or grand fanfare. They just need to be opened and poured, and they need to keep the meal moving (like this wine below from Maison Trenel, but more on that in a minute). They are, in baseball terms, a single. Or even a walk.

It is pleasantly simple and simply pleasant, but underneath that first impression, there is considerable balance and intrigue.

But secondly, a vast majority of wine media — with its obsession over point scores — still only cares about home-run hitters. We are still seeing beefy, overloaded wines with scores in the high 90s. Why? Because they stand out when your palate is fatigued and you’ve been slogging through dozens of similar wines, the preferred process for professional critics.

This wine below will never be one of those wines. It was never intended to be because it is a simple Chardonnay from the designated villages of the Mâconnais, which was raised only in stainless-steel. It’s sole purpose is exuberant fruit, lean lines and direct acidity. Weeknight meals: here you go.

I recently joked with fellow wine writer Meg Maker during our talk on the evolution of wine language that we had both “left money on the table” by not using point scores. Of course, as wine writers, we will never make any money, but we also deprive ourselves a lot of help from the industry, who could point attention to our publications with “shelf talkers” and social media posts about this 95-point wine and that 96-point wine.

But Meg and I both know that wine — true wine — is far more versatile, nuanced and interesting than that kind of reduction of talking points. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a chilled white wine under a screw cap that you fetched for $20, but which is still memorable in one of two ways. And its this last part that elevated Maison Trenel’s 2021 Mâcon-Villages as a “Wine to Admire.” It is pleasantly simple and simply pleasant, but underneath that first impression, there is considerable balance and intrigue. I picked up three different and distinct fruit memories on the aromas (a sort of mashup of tart green apple, sweet kiwi and key lime) while the direct acidity still had a faintly creamy richness to keep it from running away on the palate.

File this one under affordable Burgundy village white wines, a never-ending obsession in its own right.

Maison Trenel is an historic négociant with one foot on the Mâconnais and another in Beaujolais. In 2015, they were bought by one of France’s best-known wineries, M. Chapoutier.

2021 Maison Trenel Mâcon-Villages

2021 Maison Trenel Mâcon-Villages Blanc white wineMâcon-Villages AOC (Burgundy )
Grapes: Chardonnay (100%)
Alcohol: 12.5%
Opinion: ★★★★ 1/2
Food-friendliness: Versatile
Value: As Expected


A beginner might love … asking “this is Chardonnay?” American palates have grown accustom to the coconut-meringue version of this wine (the product of warmer climates and oak aging, usually), but here we see proof that Chardonnay is a blank canvas for winemakers. Finely etched and lean, this wine is ideal for summer patio sipping.

A wine obsessive might love … that said, wine obsessives know that the Mâconnais is quite a bit warmer than the Côtes de Beaune and certainly warmer than Chablis — long considered the terroir for Chardonnay. Compared to those two other Burgundian regions, the Mâconnais is downright solar. Yet in recent years, the area’s producers — including this négociant — have embraced freshness and a lighter touch (or no touch at all) of oak with their Chardonnay. This may not be the most distinctive bottle from the area, but it certainly captures this moment in the Mâcon, and does so for around $24.


Note: This wine was provided as a sample by Folio Fine Wine Partners. Learn more about our editorial policies.

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