Jean-Marie Guffens is a brilliant, peerless and eccentric winemaker known in some circles as a “Master in the art of Chardonnay”. According to critics, he is the best producer of white burgundy. To which Guffens responds: “Exaggerated, everyone else is just worse.”
Jean-Marie Guffens has three wineries: Domaine Guffens-Heynen, Château des Tourettes, and Maison Verget. Domaine Guffens-Heynen the couple’s personal estate and original winemaking project, set up in 1979 after the pair moved from their native Belgium to learn winemaking. Domaine Guffens-Heynen and Verget are located in Maconnais, while Château des Tourettes is in the Luberon region in the southeast of France. Jean-Marie Guffens’ wines from Maconnais and Luberon have acquired a solid reputation, with diamond-polished cuvées that are always very pure, rich and tense.
The Verget brand brings together a superb range of appellations, encompassing wines from various villages in the Maconnais. These villages include but are not limited to: Macon Vergisson, Macon Bussières, Macon Charnay, and Saint-Véran. The Verget portfolio is based largely on Chardonnay, from generic Macon-Villages all the way up to a trio of single-vineyard Pouilly-Fuissés. Highly regarded wines from Chablis and the Côte d'Or complete the Chardonnay line-up. Although buying must (not yet fermented grape juice) is an old custom in Burgundy, instructing the farmers on how to work the land and harvesting the grapes at a time of the buyer’s choosing was not. However, this became the key to success for Maison Verget.
The wines are created to highlight the specificities and nuances of each terroir, and prevail as the best of the Maconnais. Although Guffens has a sharp tongue and some of his comments seem to suggest a certain arrogance, Guffens often has his tongue firmly in his cheek and he is just as hard on his own wines as he is on those produced by his colleagues. Despite his incendiary flamboyance, the heart of Guffens’ success lies in that humble, old-fashioned virtue: hard work in the vineyards.