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It's always time to Drink More Beaujolais, especially with three different but quite good vintages to choose from and with the season of casual outdoor dining and grilling finally approaching - the perfect setting for Beaujolais! There are many beautiful wines in this email, please take a look!
2014 is a favorite vintage of ours, with many of the wines showing perfect balance and gorgeous fruit; 2015 offers great ripeness and denser black fruits, with growers such as Georges Descombes and Roland Pignard producing outstanding, fuller-bodied but balanced wines; 2016 is a "classic" if somewhat irregular vintage with the best growers making bright, extremely lovely and refeshing wines. Which brings us to the new arrivals from Georges Descombes, whose Vieilles Vignes cuvées are always among the best of the region. His 2015s show the ripeness of the vintage but with great balance and beautiful supple fruit - drink them now or age 5 to 8 years for a real treat! And the Georges Descombes 2016 "regular" cuvées are light, bright and beautiful, perfect for summer enjoyment served cool with anything off the grill - and ditto for the 2016s of his stepson Damian Coquelet which are subtle, floral and pretty.
Cedric Chignard has made a beautiful 2016 Fleurie "Les Moriers" showing the serious side of Fleurie as this parcel juts out into Moulin-a-Vent and shares the granite soils rich in manganese. Quite dense and dark for a 2016, this wines shows lovely black fruits and a mineral-laden finish. Also showing a serious side of Beaujolais, the wines of Guy Breton sometimes seem austere when young but his 2016 Regnié is showing beautiful floral red fruits - it's a complex and delicious wine for current drinking and it will benefit from medium-term aging.
Christian Ducroux, in our opinion, is making the most fascinating and natural of all Beaujolais. His biodynamic farming and his attention to the life of the soil is exemplary and a joy to see among the often herbicided and eroded vineyards of the region. As we wait for his superb 2017 Exspectatia, we can enjoy the last cases of his 2017 "Prologue," a complex and delightful Vin de France with zero addives - for lovers of natural wines. Also firmly in the natural camp is Jean-Claude Lapalu, especially with his 2016 low-sulfur glou-glou Beaujolais called "Eau Forte." It's a light and lovely blend of old-vine juice from Brouilly and Cote de Brouilly, but he gets serious as well with wines such as the 2015 Brouilly "La Croix des Rameau."
And we love the wines from our biodynamic friends Joëlle and Roland Pignard - we're very happy to have some of their superb and very mineral 2014 Regnié, which is getting better and better with age, as well as their two beautiful 2015 Morgons which are delicious now and will cellar nicely as well. The Pignard 2016 Beaujolais-Villages is a wonderful combination of fresh, lovely fruit and great terroir expression from a high-elevation parcel with 40 year-old vines in sandy clay over decomposed granite. There is a very short carbonic-maceration to preserve the fresh fruit and only a tiny addition of sulfur before the bottling. This is a subtle, elegant and well-structured Beaujolais, showing pretty aromas of raspberry, plum and tart cherry, with hints of violet, citrus and herbs. The palate shows firm acidity and saline mineral flavors, framing the blackberry and raspberry fruit, with hints of mint, spice and citrus. The wine is elegant and delicious now and will improve over the next few years.
Be Happy, Drink More Beaujolais!
(Our note from 2017) The Pignard's Morgon Cuvée Tradition is ripe, dense and delicious in 2015! Good friends with Christian Ducroux, the Pignards practise similar methods of biodynamic farming and natural vinifications. Produced from hillside vineyards of sandy clay over limestone in "Les Charmes," the wine ferments naturally, with only 10mg of SO2 added before bottling and spends a year in vat followed by a year in old barriques. The wine shows aromas of blackberry liqueur with earth, spice, citrus and herbal notes. The palate is silky and supple with ripe black fruits, bitter chocolate, earth, spice and citrus - having some aspects of northern Rhone wines in this very warm, dry vintage. The finsh is long with fruit liqueur, spice and citrusy acids. This shows the density and darker fruit flavors of the 2015 vintage but in a more balanced frame at 13% alcohol. Delicious now in it's youthful intensity, probably best from 2020 to 2025. David Lillie
The Descombes Morgon Vieilles Vignes is made from 60 to 100 year-old vines from numerous sites on granite soils; semi-carbonic fermentation then aging 6 - 8 months in Burgundy barrels and one year in bottle before release. Dense and dark, this wine has formidable concentration. Some nice floral notes on the nose, with some vegetable ash and herbal characteristics wrapped around the dense dark fruit core. Deep and intense blackberry compote character on the palate is supported by inky tannin. This is a full-blooded Beaujolais that will benefit from a decade in the cellar, though right now its incredibly concentrated dark fruit and raw power should be enticing to those who love their wine with youthful strength. An excellent companion to sweet and sour pork, peking duck, or veal marsala. Andrew Farquhar
The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are among the very finest Beaujolais produced, and despite the added ripeness in 2015, the wines are oustanding both for current drinking and for aging 10 to 15 years. The 2015 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows ripe black raspberry and blackberry aromas with spice, violet, rose, earth and citrus, quite deep and complex. The palate has a deep, supple, grainy texure and lush black raspberry liqueur that coats the palate. The finish is long with elegant fruit liqueur and firm acidity. Enjoy with a grilled steak this summer, but put some away for future enjoyment as well. David Lillie
This beautiful Regnié has the perfect weight, density and sublte flavors to be a great choice for Thanksgiving! The Descombes Regnié Vieilles Vignes is superb in 2014, showing lovely aromas of red currant and strawberry, violet, orange peel, brown spice and soil. There is velvety strawberry and blackberry compote on the palate with rose, pomegranate, earth and citrus. The finish is long with lemony acidity, mineral flavors and pretty red fruits. This is a complex and beautifully balanced Regnié that is delicious now, with aeration, and it should be superb from 2020 to 2026+. Highly recommended. David Lillie
The 2016 shows a pretty garnet in the glass and offers elegant aromas of violets, black cherry, pepper, and blackberry patch. The vibrant acidity and fine minerality are evocative of the lean 2014 vintage. Flavors of tart red currants, supple blueberry, earth and brown spice finish with tangy orange citrus and cherry pit. Another classic vintage from Georges Descombes! Amanda Bowman
Georges Descombes has once again made a light and lovely Morgon in 2016 that will be a joyful drink this winter and over the next few years. The wine shows a bright garnet color with aromas of strawberry, raspberry and rose with a bit of citrus peel and spice. The palate is light but nicely sapid and ripe with supple red fruits with hints of citrus, earth and spice. The finish is ripe and refreshing with juicy acidity. Serve cool and enjoy, this very pretty wine is highly recommended! David Lillie
The Chignard Fleurie "Les Moriers" is from a parcel of 60 year-old vines, wedged into Moulin-a-Vent, with granite soils rich in manganese. The 2016 is an outstanding wine, quite dense and well-structured, showing black cherry and blackberry aromas with violet, citrus and spice.The palate is firm with deep black fruits and mineral flavors with terrific length and balance. This is a beautiful Fleurie, more of a Moulin-a-Vent, actually, that should be decanted or opened well in advance if drinking now. This will accompany grilled meats and coq au vin, and will cellar well, perhaps best 2021 - 2028. David Lillie
The 2016 Lapalu "Eau Forte" is a selection of old-vine juice from Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Organic farming; the whole clusters are pressed in a traditional basket press and fermentation is with wild yeasts in concrete vats (not carbonic). There is a gentle maceration to extract color but with no pigeage or remontage to minimize extraction of tannins. Two-thirds of the wine is moved to older, neutral barrels to complete fermentation while one-third remains in concrete. The wine then stays in barrel or vat for five months before final assemblage and is not fined or filtered before bottling, with only 10mg/Liter of SO2. This wine is not meant to be a vin de garde like the Lapalu Brouilly Croix des Rameaux or Côte de Brouilly - it's a beautiful natural wine showing aromas of blackberry and violet with tart plum orange peel and spice, bright and pretty. The palate has a light feel but is quite intense with dense black raspberry fruit framed in very firm acidity with hints of mint, earth and citrus. This is serious "glou-glou," quite unique and delicious - get some saussisons or grill some pork and enjoy! David Lillie
From vines averaging 70 years of age in the lieu-dit "La Croix des Rameaux" on a steep south-west facing slope with various degradations of granite. 90% of fruit was destemmed with a 21 to 24 day cuvaison. The free run and pressed wines were assembled just before final fermentation of sugars. Approximately two weeks later, the wine was transferred into neutral barrels (average age of 10 years) for elevage of 10 months. No added sulfur during vinification, 10mg/Liter SO2 added before bottling, no filtration. The 2015 La Croix des Rameaux shows a bright red-black color, with meaty aromas of ripe blackberry and earth with a bit of violet and black cherry. The palate is dense and a bit closed, showing deep black fruits with hints of citrus, earth and bitter chocolate, very textured and long. Certainly an impressive wine and better balanced than most 2015s at 13% alcohol. Decant in advance if drinking now, best served cool with a steak or grilled pork. This should be very interesting when mature, best perhaps 2022 to 2030.
Damien Coquelet, working in the same stlye as his step-father Georges Descombes, has created some beautifully old-fashioned Beaujolais in 2016. The Morgon Cote de Py shows lovely aromas of raspberry, strawberry, citrus and rose, very pretty and bright. The palate shows a bit more stucture and darker fruit than the Damien's Chiroubles, with sappy strawberry fruit, a bit of citrus and a more earthy character. The finish is refreshing and long with juicy berry fruit and firm acidity. Serve quite cool with chicken and white meats, grilled foods and charcuterie. Lovely wine.
The step-son of Georges Descombes, Damien has worked alongside him since early childhood. L earning everything from Descombes in the vines and shared cellar has instilled the same values in Damien's work ethic: organic viticulture, hand harvesting, native yeasts, zero intervention in the cellar and little if any sulfur at bottling.The 2016 Chiroubles is a particularly pretty, old fashioned Beaujolais! Weighing in at 12% alcohol, the wine shows gorgeous aromas of raspberry and rose with spice and citrus notes. The palate shows sappy raspberry fruit, really lovely, ripe and persistent but light and balanced with refreshing acidity. There is nice length of earthy berry fruit in the long finish. Serve cool with chicken and white meats, and anything grilled this summer. Lovely wine! David Liliie
"Faites des vins peu alcoolisés avec un joli parfum" said Jules Chauvet (Make wines low in alcohol and with lovely aromas) and no one does this better than Christian Ducroux! The 2017 Prologue weighs in at 10.5% alcohol and shows a fairly dark red/black color with lush aromas of crushed raspberry and blackberry with hints of earth, white pepper and geranium. The palate is bright and supple with black raspberry, citrus, rose, earth and mineral flavors. This lively and very alive wine takes you into the soils of Ducroux's vineyards and is a tonic for the soul. Zero added sulfur, keep cool - highly recommended for lovers of natural wines. David Lillie
Guy Breton's Regnié is from 35 year-old and 100 year-old vines on shallow sandy soils over decomposed granit.The 2016 is exuberantly floral on the nose, redolent of violets and cherry blossoms, with notes of wild strawberry, mustard seed, and spice. The palate is supple and racy, with ripe red and black fruits, black tea, and granitic spice on a bright, high-toned finish. While this is charming now, there's a nice midterm upside for those who prefer a little age on their Beaujolais. John McIlwain
(Our notes from 2017) We are big fans of the 2014 vintage in Beaujolais and we were very happy to get another shipment of the lovely 2014 Regnié from Joëlle and Roland Pignard. The wine is opening up nicely with pretty aromas of ripe strawberry and black cherry mingling with earth, rose, truffle and brown spice. The palate has softened a bit with bright strawberry, cherry and red currant over the saline minerals and earth with citrus and herbal notes. The wine is subtle and perfectly balanced at 12% alcohol - a real Regnié of terroir that will continue to improve over the next few years. Delicous wine! (Notes from August 2016 below)The Pignards' Regnié is from 50 year-old vines on alluvial clay soils, always giving a well-structured wine. The 2014 shows subtle aromas of ripe red currant and strawberry, very floral and pure. The palate is less fruity, showing stone and mineral flavors with lighter raspberry/strawberry fruit, quite elegant, and finishing with stony acidity. This will need a few years to show at its best but is delicious now in its purity and restraint. Decant if drinking now, best probably 2019 - 2023.
(Our note from 2017) We're very proud to have the lovely Morgons of Roland Pignard at Chambers Street. The vines for this cuvée are 60 years old, planted at high altitude on steep hillsides in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes," just northwest of their home in the hamlet of Saint-Joseph above Villié-Morgon. Biodynamic farming, with no SO2 added until a minimal dose before bottling. The fermentation is with wild yeasts with a relatively short period of carbonic-maceration. The 2015 Morgon shows a vivid deep red color with complex aromas of ripe black cherry and black raspberry, wild flowers, earth and black pepper. The palate is ripe and supple with black raspberry and cherry fruit, brightened by firm acidity with hints of orange peel and brown spice. The finish is long and ripe with lingering black fruits, citrus and mineral flavors. At 13% alcohol, this beautiful Morgon shows the ripeness of the 2015 vintage but in a balanced and nuanced style with a complexity and mineral character found in few of the 2015s. Delicious now, best 2020 to 2025, but who will wait? David Lillie
The Pignard's Beaujolais-Villages is from a high-elevation parcel with 40 year-old vines in sandy clay over decomposed granite. There is a very short carbonic-maceration to preserve the fresh fruit and only a tiny addition of sulfur before the bottling. The 2016 is a subtle, elegant and well-structured Beaujolais, hosting aromas of cherry, blackberry, and red apple skins, with a light presence of dark flowers. On the palate, there are flavors of dark cherry and essences of fresh, woodsy earth. The structure is lean, with clean minerality. This is a real Beaujolais of terroir that is elegant and delicious now and will improve over the next few years.