Vines of Christian Ducroux

Beaujolais 2014! 2013 Ducroux Prologue, Descombes 2012s, Pignard and Vionnet 2011s!

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We salute the New Year, and with it the arrival of Christian Ducroux's delicious 2013 Prologue, the lovely 2012 Brouilly and Morgon from Georges Descombes, and the return of the wonderful 2011s from our new friends, Joëlle and Roland Pignard.

2013 will not go down in history as a great vintage in the Beaujolais, or any other region of France for that matter, and the Beaujolais Nouveaus that arrived in late November, our first glimpse of the vintage, were a bit disappointing. Not so with the just arrived 2013 Ducroux Vin de France Prologue! Refreshingly light at 10.5% alcohol, the wine tastes as though it was harvested under sunny skies after a cool, perfect season. This is a tribute both to Ducroux's farming as well as to his meticulous no-sulfur vinifications. Christian's vineyards are unlike almost any other in the Beaujolais, with a thick layer of grasses and flowers surrounding the vines, with fruit trees between each five rows and hedges on the sides. The soil is never deeply plowed, with only a turning-over near the vines and then two superficial scrapings ("griffage") done by horse or ox to avoid compacting the soils. Organic since the early '80s and Biodynamic for many years, Christian's farm is largely self-sufficient. His alcohol levels are always lower than other "modern" Beaujolais, in the true style of Jules Chauvet, as his vines are minimally fertilized with the farm's own compost and the grapes reach true maturity without excess sugar. This is a delicious wine of terroir with marvelous aromas and a lovely light palate, and we thank M. Ducroux for his wonderful work.

Although 2012 was a difficult, low-yielding year for the growers, we have been very impressed with many of the wines, which exhibit lovely, vibrant fruit, brisk acidity and moderate alcohol. An unofficial member of "The Gang of Four," Georges Descombes is one of our favorite Beaujolais producers, and his first two arrivals from 2012 are lovely indeed. Descombes has very old vines, especially in Brouilly; he works organically in the vineyard and vinifies naturally with only a small dose of sulfur before bottling. These are fine, natural wines, with a bit more body and alcohol than those of Ducroux - they will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years.

Last year Christian Ducroux introduced us to his good friends, Joëlle and Roland Pignard, who converted to organic farming in 2004 and are now certified Biodynamic. Their first shipment of 2010s were certainly among the most terroir expressive Beaujolais we have ever tasted, and we sold out very quickly. The 2011s that followed are bigger wines with a bit more fruit and less acidity, but equally popular for their purity, balance, and fine underlying minerality. "Life in the soil is essential; we look after it by only ploughing and tilling using horse-drawn sheers; this ensures that the soil is not as compacted, and that micro biotic life can develop there. Because the vines’ roots delve down deeper, they draw up more of the terroir’s characteristics" says Roland. We have just received another shipment and we urge you to try these delicious wines.

 

 

 

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Ducroux 2013 Vin de France Prologue

Each year we get a small shipment of Christian Ducroux's "Prologue" — his term for Beaujolais Nouveau, the difference being that Ducroux's is a serious wine that drinks well for a few years at least. We were a bit worried about the 2013, given the difficult vintage, as even our usual favorites did not show particularly well. We opened a bottle after hours as soon as it arrived, and the immediate smiles on the faces of the sales and stock staff gave the verdict: this stuff is fantastic! At 10.5% alcohol and made with zero added sulfites, sugar or other additions, the wine is pure, remarkably complex and simply delicious. Fabulous aromas of wild strawberry, plum and violet with hints of citrus and white pepper — really lovely! The palate is light but vivid with citrusy red fruits and soft velvety texture. With time open, earthy black fruits and spice emerge -  even on day three the wine was refresing and lovely. The vineyard work of Christian Ducroux is among the finest in the world, and his careful, zero-additive vinifications create some of the most naturally delicious wines to be found anywhere, regardless of price... DL

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  • $14.99

Descombes, Georges 2012 Morgon

We always love the "regular" botting of Descombes' Morgon and the 2012 is a great example — elegant aromas of raspberry, strawberry and violets, quite pure and fine. The palate is light and pretty with wild strawberry and morello cherry, nicely balanced and with perfect acidity and good length. This is a really lovely, understated Beaujolais that will improve with a few hours open or a few years in the cellar.

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  • $23.99

Descombes, Georges 2012 Brouilly

Descombes has great parcels in Brouilly with some vines being 100 years old and on very steep hillsides. The 2011 was lush and lovely and the 2012 is quite pretty in a lighter style with elegant aromas of blackberry and strawberry compote with citrus and spice notes. The palate has firm acidity and saline mineral notes underlying juicy black fruits. Decant or open in advance to drink now — this well structured wine will be best in two to five years.

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  • $23.99

Pignard 2011 Beaujolais-Villages

From 40 to 60 year-old vines in high-elevation parcels above Morgon, not far from Christian Ducroux, certified biodynamic. This is a really lovely wine with delicate raspberry/strawberry aromas that carry through on the pure, light palate. Beautifully balanced with lingering fruit and distinctive mineral acidity in the finish, quite delicious! DL

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  • $16.99

Pignard 2011 Régnié

Quite different than the austere, intensely mineral 2010, the 2011 Regnié from Roland and Joëlle Pignard shows lovely deep aromas of red-currant and strawberry liqueur, with hints of cool blueberry fruit. Full and ripe on the palate but also light and refereshing at 12.5% alcohol and with ample acidity. The slightly bitter mineral acids linger in the finish with the berry fruit. This is an outstanding Beaujolais from beautiful high-altitude vineyards. Certified biodynamic, minimal SO2, analysis usually below 10mg/l total.

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  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Pignard 2011 Morgon

We're very proud to have the lovely Morgons of Roland Pignard at Chambers Street. From high-elevation 50 to 60 year-old vines in the commune of Saint-Joseph north-west of Villié-Morgon. Biodynamic farming, no SO2 until a minimal dose before bottling. A relatively short period of carbonic-maceration. This has lovely aromas of raspberry and violets, the palate is light and pretty with red fruits and citrus, very round but with great acidity and a terrific backing of stony mineral flavors. Softer and more open than the 2010, this should drink beautifully over the next 5 years...

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  • $18.99

Pignard 2011 Morgon Tradition

The Morgon Tradition from the Pignards receives a year of aging in old barrels before release, while the "regular" cuvee is aged for a shorter period in cement. The Tradition 2011 is a deep red/black color with ripe blackberry, red currant liqueur and floral aromas. Beautifully round and ripe red and black fruits on the palate with hints of earth and mint. Nice concentration but not at all heavy with firm acidity and moderate alcohol at 12.5%. This is a generous, full-bodied Beaujolais with layers of ripe fruit and mineral flavors — really lovely and a great value!

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  • $19.99