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We're very happy to feature two of our favorite Beaujolais producers and their first arrivals from the outstanding, if somewhat ripe and powerful, 2015 vintage! Both Le Clos de la Roilette (then classified as Moulin-a-Vent) and Le Domaine de la Grand'Cour were once owned by the same person, a certain Monsieur Crozet. In the 1920s, when the appellation Fleurie was created, M. Crozet, incensed that his estate had lost its classification as Moulin-a-Vent, created the trademark "Clos de la Roilette," named after his race-horse, with Fleurie in small letters beneath it, as it remains labeled today. Both properties were gradually abandoned by the family, with Fernand Coudert purchasing Roilette in 1967 and Jean Dutraive purchasing Grand'Cour in 1969. All history aside, these two estates are now making some of the finest wines in the Beaujolais and the 2015s are excellent candidates for the cellar!
Alain Coudert at the Clos de la Roilette took over from his father Fernand in the late 1980s and consistently produces outstanding Fleurie. Soils at the Clos are predominantly clay with manganese over the granite bedrock - a terroir more typical of Moulin-a-Vent - which explains the depth and darker fruit always present in this wine. Typically needing 3 to 5 years of aging before showing at its best, the 2015 will benefit from more time than usual in the cellar, but will also drink well young paired with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses. With the 1998 vintage, the Couderts introduced a new wine, Cuvée Christal, from vines on a more normal "Fleurie" terroir of decomposed granite. This more traditional cuvée shows floral aromatics and lighter, more forward fruit though still possesing the ripeness and concentration of this powerful vintage. (And yes, we have a small quantity of the superb 2014 Cuvée Tardive available as well!)
Jean-Louis Dutraive at the Domaine de la Grand'Cour also suceeding his father in the late 1980s, took over 9 hectares of Fleurie on the terroirs of "Grand'Cour," "Chapelle des Bois" and "Champagne" along with 1.6 hectares of old vines in Brouilly. The estate has been certified organic since 2009 and practices a traditional carbonic maceration. No additives are used during winemaking, with only a small dosage of sulfur added before botling. Jean-Louis was in New York for last Spring's "Big Glou" at the Wythe Hotel and at a well-attended tasting at Chambers Street, where his delicate, complex and very natural wines were greatly appreciated. We're very happy to present the first of the Grand'Cour 2015s including the rare Brouilly Vieilles Vignes.
Although there will be no "delicate" wines from the Beaujolais in 2015, there will be much enjoyment to be had from these very ripe and somewhat intense wines, with many offering excellent aging potential. And stay tuned for Grand'Cour and Coudert Part 2, coming soon, with the arrival of the Clos de la Roilette Cuvée Tardive and three additional wines from Jean-Louis Dutraive!
In 2015 Alain Coudert's Clos de la Roilette is showing its historical roots in Moulin-a-Vent (as it was classified until the 1920s) as the clay soils here produced a big wine with a generous amount of alcohol in this very warm vintage. The color is a deep red/black, with aromas of ripe blackberry and black raspbery liqueur with hints of violet and blood orange backed by graphite and earth. The palate shows very ripe black fruits with earth, mineral, cocoa and leather, lifted by firm acicidty in the long dense finish. This will accompany grilled meats, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses. Quite delicious now in its youthful intensity, best probably from 2019 to 2025.
Alain Coudert makes this lovely wine from two small parcels on typical Fleurie terroir of sandy soils over decomposed granite, in contast to the heavier clay/manganese soils at the Clos de la Roilette. The 2015 is a bright garnet/red color with vivid aromas of blackberry and ripe strawberry with violet, pepper, earth and citrus. There is deep, ripe berry fruit on the palate with dark chocolate, earth and citrus with surprisingly firm acidity and brightness. This delicioius Fleurie shows the richness of the 2015 vintage but remains fresh and lively - drink this beautiful Beaujolais over the next five years, served cool, with just about anything!
From eighty year-old vines on clay and granite soil in Alain Coudert's beautiful Clos de la Roliette, just over the border from Moulin-a-Vent. By "Tardive," Alain Coudert implies that one should wait for this wine to mature, in this case probably about 5 to 7 years, although those unable to wait will certainly enjoy drinking it now. In the cavalcade of great Cuvee Tardives, the 2014 weighs in at 13% and shows a more weight and flesh than the racy and wonderful 2012, and a bit less structure than the 2010 (our favorite of recent vintages) and is brighter and more balanced than the monumental 2009. In other words, it's a fabulous wine that should be in the cellar of any lover of Beaujolais! The wine is a deep red/black color and shows fresh, high-toned aromas of blackberry liqueur, strawberry, violets, brown spice, licorice and grilled meats - really quite lovely. The palate is framed in stone and mineral flavors with firm acidity, with earthy dark fruits and an almost bitter finish of saline minerals and black fruits. This is a superb Tardive, very expressive of the manganese-rich soils and a lovely combination of beautiful floral/fruit aromas and a dark mineral-laden palate. Wait five to seven years, drink until 2030?
Jean-Louis Dutraive makes this delightful Fleurie from a parcel of 20 to 70 year-old vines, the "Chappelle des Bois," in organic agriculture since 2009. It's a "vin de soif" bottled early to preserve freshness and fruit, meant to be drunk nicely chilled. The 2015 shows very pretty aromas of raspberry and strawberry fruit with violet and citrus - really lovely. The palate shows a bit more alcohol and weight than the aromas might indicate, with sappy red fruits with a bit of earth and spice coating the palate backed by firm acidity. Quite serious for a "thirst-quencher," this will accompany grilled meats, roast chicken, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
Certified organic since 2009, the Dutraive family's Domaine de la Grand Cour produces subtle, traditional wines from their 9 hectares in Fleurie and a small parcel in Brouilly. Harvested by hand, the grapes ferment with wild yeasts in carbonic maceration, without addition of sulfur. The "Clos de la Grand Cour" is aged in a combination of cuve inox, barrels and foudres. The 2015 shows penetrating aromas of ripe strawberry and black cherry with pepper, iris, violet and earth. Elegant blackberry, plum-skin, licorice and earth on the palate, very deep and long, framed in firm acidity and quite powerful at 14.5% alcohol. This will accompany a steak, grilled pork, duck and strong cheeses. This should cellar beautifully, best perhaps 2020 to 2025.
From a small hillside parcel of 50-plus year-old vines in Brouilly, certified organic. Carbonic maceration with no addition of SO2, followed by foot-pressing, gravity fed into large barrels or foudres for aging. 12 mg of SO2 at bottling. In this year of intense ripeness in the Beaujolais, the Dutraive Brouilly Vieilles Vignes shows vivid aromas of raspberry liqueur, spice, citrus, menthol and violet with hints of earth and game; ripe red and black fruits on the palate with firm acidity, and dense fruit, spice, mineral and animal flavors in the long finish. This is a big, full-bodied and very complex Brouilly that will be most pleasing to lovers of natural wines and that will benefit from time in the cellar. Decant if drinking now and serve cool with grilled meats, guinea hen, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
This belongs in your cellar!
Aged in two to six year-old Burgundy barrels. From eighty-plus year-old vines, as is Tardive. "The wood is obviously not present to mask the wine, but rather to accompany it, to complement its tannins and create complexity. It's really tight the first two years, but opens up beautifully when you give it some time," says Alain. Tasted side by side with the 2013 in January, the 2014 showed telltale signs of this excellent vintage offering compelling dark fruit and a touch of spice on the nose along with faint traces of licorice. It comes across a bit softer on the palate with velvety black berry fruit and ample minerality. Textured, long, and graceful, this will need at least a few years (if not many more) in the cellar to really shine, so buy a few - you won't regret it! Tim Gagnon