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As in the Loire Valley, the 2018 vintage in Beaujolais is bringing us wines with beautiful ripeness, supple texture and great concentration, but that remain bright, well-balanced and incredibly delicious! Those cuvées meant for early drinking are uniformly remarkably pretty with floral aromas of red and black fruits, a lush palate and refreshing acidities in the finish. Wines meant to age are deep and ripe, well-structured and balanced by firm acidity - they should cellar better than wines from 2009 and 2015. This is a time to Drink More Beaujolais, and we're happy to offer a collection of our favorite early arrivals from this superb vintage...
For early drinking, the 2018 Damien Coquelet Beaujolais-Villages just can't be beat - it's a glass full of joy, with lush floral red fruits, that is supple, ripe and refreshing - buy a case or two or five and drink over the next few years! And for something equally yummy, try the 2018 Jean-Paul Brun "Terres d'Orées" Beaujolais l'Ancien Vieilles Vignes - it's a Burgundian vinification rather than the normal Beaujolais carbonic maceration, from old vines in organic farming on limestone soils in the southern Beaujolais. The 2018 shows bright red currant, raspberry and strawberry fruit - just delicious and quite refreshing - serve cool and enjoy...
2018 is a great vintage for Alain Coudert at the Clos de la Roilette - we started with his father Fernand in 1988 (?) and we can happily attest that the 2018s are among the best in the past thirty years at this great estate. The "Clos de la Roilette" wines are not "typical" Fleurie - the soils here, on the border of Moulin-à-Vent, have a large amount of clay and mangenese giving greater density and very complex aromas and flavors to these two superb wines, both of which will benefit from cellaring. (The Cuvée Tardive is very limited - 6 bottle maximum purchase please.) The Cuvée Christie, coming from parcels on more typical sandy granite soils is a lovely, more forward wine in 2018 with floral red fruit aromas and a silky, lush palate - for immediate enjoyment!
The influence of Marcel Lapierre was profound in the French movement towards more natural winemaking and better vineyard work, and his son Matthieu and daughter Camille continue the great work at this important estate. We're happy to offer a limited quantity of the wonderful 2018 Morgon and 2017 and 2018 Morgon "N."
Jean-Paul Thevenet's Morgon Vieilles Vignes, year in and year out, is one of the very best wines in the Beaujolais, alway showing a unique and profound expression of fruit and terroir. His 2009 is drinking beautifully now, but we think that the 2018 is a better balanced wine, with beautiful aromas and a remarkable complexity of fruit and mineral flavors on the palate. This is Beaujolais for grown-ups and while it can be drunk now with great pleasure, we recommend cellaring for 3 to 5 years - and then enjoy until 2035...
We've been enjoying the bright, natural Beaujolais of Isabel and Bruno Perraud since the 2009 vintage and we're happy to report that they made beautifully lush and vibrant wines in 2018! We were particularly delighted with their Saint-Amour - it shows exuberant, lush aromas, vibrant fruit and an intriguing mineral palate - we urge you to try it. Another staff favorite is the Morgon "Grand Cras" which shows a team of dark flowers, fresh earth, and wild dark fruits - it's a beautiful Morgon suitable for medium-term aging.
Jean-Claude Lapalu needs no introduction to lovers of natural wines as his various cuvées of Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly and Vin de France are always among the most complex and fascinating wines of Beaujolais. At our recent tasting we found his top three cuvées to be compelling and delicious, all showing beautifully but obviously young and worthy of aging.
And of course Christian Ducroux's superb 2018 "Exspectatia," belongs on everyone's list of great natural wines!
Drink More Beaujolais! All wines arrive by Wednesday, September 25.
L'Ancien comes from Jean Paul Brun's home village of Charnay in the southern Beaujolais. The vines range in age from 40 to 60 years old and are planted on slopes sporting the area's signature sandy clay-limestone soils, featuring the particular local "dorée" or "golden" limestone that is laden with iron. These older vines have always been farmed organically and harvested by hand and yield small, thick-skinned Gamay berries. As for all Terres Dorées reds, the vinification is traditional Burgundian rather than the normal carbonic maceration in Beaujolais. The 2018 shows a bright deep red color. The aromas are high-toned and ripe with red currant, raspberry and wild strawberry, quite bright and floral. The palate shows lush, ripe berry fruits backed by citrusy acidity, quite refreshing. The finish is long and sappy with bright red fruits and tart acidity - stock-up on this crowd-pleasing Beaujolais!
2018 is an excellent vintage for Alain Coudert - reminiscent of the ripeness of 2009 but with firmer structure and brighter fruit. The Clos de la Roilette shows a deep red/black color, with lush aromas of cassis, black cherry, pomegranate and blackberry - very complex - with hints of blood orange, licorice and spice. The palate is dense and deep showing the Moulin-a-Vent side of Fleurie, with juicy black fruits backed with firm acidity and mineral flavors. The finish is long with sappy fruit liqueur and earthy acidity. It's a big wine but quite balanced and well-structured - open well in advance if drinking now, or cellar for three to five years then drink until 2030. This is a classic Clos de la Roilette and is highly recommended. David Lillie
2018 is a great vintage for the Morgon from Mathieu and Camille Lapierre. The wine shows lovely deep aromas of blackberry liqueur and earth, and there's an underlying complexity to this wine that is perhaps overshadowed by the joyful, smile-inducing fruit that jumps out of the glass. Though a candidate for aging 5 to 8+ years, it's drinking beautifully now and will be perfect with upcoming holiday meals with a light chill. -EL
(Tasted from three different barrels, January 2019) Ripe plum and berry fruit aromas, blackberry liqueur, earth, rose, licorice. The palate is deep, long and elegant with earthy red current, blackberry fruit, minerals and firm acidity, terrific length of fruit and stone, balanced and bright. This is both a superb natural wine and a great wine of terroir. Probably best 2022 - 2030. We think Christian practices some of the best farming we've ever seen - his soils are covered with thick growth, even in winter and fruit trees grow between the vines. His tehniques are complex and intelligent, the product of forty years of experience with organic and biodynamic farming. Thank-you, Christian Ducroux! David Lillie
The 2018 Perraud Saint-Amour is a vibrant and beautiful natural Beaujolais! The wine is from 40 year-old vines in organic farming, soils of sandy granite and small stones, vinified, aged and bottled with zero additives. The wine shows exuberant, floral aromas of black fruit liqueur with herbal and citrus notes. The palate shows bright, extremely pretty black and red fruits, a bit of cocoa, very mineral, with an almost bitter earthy character adding to the wine's complexity. This is a unique and delicious bottle of Saint-Amour and is highly recommended, especially for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
The Perraud Morgon "Grand Cras" is an excellent example of the bold quality of fruit and structure that one can expect from 2018 Cru Beaujolais. From 60-year-old vines, the vineyard work is done without pesticides or herbicides. Similarly, fermentation is kicked off by indigenous yeasts and the grapes undergo semi-carbonic maceration. The wine is aged in old oak for 6 months and bottled unfiltered. Very little sulfur is used during the process - the analysis shows 8 mg/l total at bottling. The nose and palate are a team of dark flowers, fresh earth, and wild dark fruits of cherry and blackberry. There are hints of green, savory herbs and dark stone on the palate as well. The structure is solid, with tannic chewiness and a focused, clean peak of acidity. It is a pleasure to drink now, but has a long life ahead. Dave H
The Lapalu "La Croix des Rameaux" is from numerous parcels on decomposed granite soils, averaging 60 years of age with the oldest being 90 years-old, south-west exposure. Three week semi-carbonic fermentation, aged in old barrels, not fined or filtered, only 10 mg/l of SO2, production about 200 cases. We always love the "Croix des Rameaux" and the 2018 is outstanding, showing lush, deep aromas of ripe strawberry and black fruits with earth and spice. The palate is very elegant with a firm mineral core, showing strawberry and cherry liqueur with brown spice, plum and citrus, the finish is long and firm. Decant if drinking now, best to wait 3 to 5 years then drink until 2030+ David Lillie
The "Cuvée des Fous" is sourced from two parcels with an average of 80+ year old vines in warmer areas of Brouilly. Half a hectare is from the oldest vines of the domaine planted in 1900. Whole cluster semi-carbonic fermentation and a bit more extraction than his other cuvées, aged 6-8 months in neutral barrel, then assembled into tank for 1 month before bottling. No fining or filtration, no SO2 added. The 2018 shows a quite dark red/black color with aromas of strawberry and cherry liqueur, the palate is very deep and ripe with earth and meat underlying the ripe red and black fruits, lifted with nice brightness and firm acidity in the very long and mineral finish. Lovely wine! David Lillie
2018 is proving to be a superb vintage for Beaujolais, with lush, vibrant fruit and nice brightness despite the slightly higher than usual alcohol - the Damien Coquelet Beaujolais-Villages is a beautiful example and just a joyful wine! The wine shows a deep bright red color and aromas of crushed raspberry and strawberry with violet and citrus notes. The palate shows ripe sappy red and black fruits, pure and bright, lifted by citrusy acidity, with a nice earthy texture beneath the lush fruit that lingers in the long juicy finish. Serve cool for immense enjoyment over the next three or four years! David Lillie
We have had the pleasure of selling every vintage of Alain Coudert's "Cuvée Tardive" since it's creation in 1994 (or was it 1995?) and the 2018 is certainly one of the best! It's better balanced than the very ripe 2009, a bit prettier than the well-structured 2010, a bit denser than the beautiful 2014...maybe it's the best yet? From average 80 year-old vines in clay with manganese in addition to granite soils near Moulin-A-Vent, fermentation in whole clusters with native yeasts in open-top, neutral wood vats with the cap kept submerged; the maceration for Tardive is approximately 18 days, aging takes place in old foudres. The 2018 shows a dark black/red color, with astonishing aromas of ripe cassis and black cherry with bitter mocha, violet, licorice, earth and smoke. The palate is deep and velvety with black cherry, blackberry and strawberry liqueur, licorice and spice, backed by firm acidity and gritty mineral flavors. While the wine is ripe and supple enough to drink young, it will repay a few years of aging and should be very interesting in 2030 to 2035. Very little is available, 6 bottle maximum, please. David Lillie
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, which borders Moulin-a-Vent. The 2018 is a bright garnet/red color with vivid aromas of black cherry and ripe strawberry with violet, cocoa, earth and citrus. There is deep, ripe berry fruit on the palate, sappy and long, framed in grainy earth and citrus - showing the granite soils. This delicious full-bodied Fleurie shows the richness of the 2018 vintage but remains fresh and lively - drink this beautiful Beaujolais over the next three to five years, served cool, with just about anything!
The Thévenet Morgon VV is always one of the greatest of Beaujolais. From 4.75 hectares near Le Clachet, from vines averaging 70 years of age, with some planted before World War One. About 2,000 cases are produced. Vineyard work is biodynamic, fermentation is with wild yeasts at a moderately low temperature (10 - 13 degrees Celsius). Aging is mostly in old barrels from DRC with minimal extraction. The 2018 Vieilles Vignes is a superb Morgon, that retains all it's complex, earthy character while showing the beautiful ripeness of this outstanding vintage. On opening the wine shows a potpourri of bright red and black fruits with cherry skin and black raspberry, spice, citrus and earth. The palate is silky, but with firm earthy tannins, with sappy cherry/raspberry/strawberry fruit framed in grainy minerality which continues in the long complex finish. This will need some time to reveal its secrets, please give it a long decant if drinking now, best to cellar three to five years and drink until 2032+
Especially during the 3-6 month period after bottling, the "N" ( no SO2 added) Morgon from the Lapierre camp is generally more open and lifted aromatically, with pure fruit and great mid-palate and finish. Often the version with SO2 added before bottling is more closed and muted aromatically and needs a bit more time to open up before showing off all the pretty red fruit. There have been several tastings that can be researched for more insight on these different versions of an otherwise identical wine. Some posit that the bottling with SO2 added would be a better candidate for long time aging, but I'm not sure I concur. We will have to put a bottle of each 2018 away and return to this conversation next decade! -EL
The Lapalu "Alma Mater" is made from multiple parcels on sandy granite soils: carbonic fermentation in concrete vats with whole clusters. Gentle maceration but no punch downs or punch overs to minimize extractions. Pressed with a traditional basket press. The wine is aged 7 months on the skins in amphora, with a permanent exchange with the "terre" (earth) in this vessel. ("Antidote to oxygen, thus eliminating need for sulfur" says the importer.) Pressed to tank and settled for 3 weeks, no fining or filtration, no SO2 added. The 2018 "Alma Mater" is an intriguing and delicious wine showing complex aromas of bright, pure raspberry fruit, quite earthy and meaty. The palate was a bit closed when tasted in early September, but showing elegant deep red fruits with hints of mint, roast meats and licorice. This needs time but should be a profound mature Beaujolais. David Lillie