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Outdoor summer meals are the perfect time for a cool glass of great Beaujolais, especially if you're grilling veggies, chicken, burgers or maybe a Saugy dog (if you're in Rhode Island) or maybe with with a magret of duck from the Greenmarket and sautéed tatsoi, if you're getting fancy. So we're happy to have some new arrivals from Georges Descombes, whose wines are always at the highest level of natural winemaking - reliably delicious and beautifully balanced even in warm vintages like 2018 and 2019. And although our friends Joëlle and Roland Pignard in Morgon retired a few years ago, they are kindly releasing wines from their cellar including the superb 2014 Regnié and Morgons from 2015 and 2016!
2018 was an excellent vintage for the Cru Beaujolais of Georges Descombes and the three new arrivals from 2019 are "astonishing!" New this week are the 2019 Regnie, the 2019 Brouilly Vieilles Vignes and the 2019 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes. CSW customers are familiar with the superb Beaujolais from Descombes, products of great certified organic farming and precise, temperatre controlled slow fermentations with little or no SO2 - all of the wines on offer today will bring joy to your table this summer but please don't miss the three 2019s - quantities are very small so don't delay...
And speaking of new arrivals, it's a real treat to recieve great Cru Beaujolais that has been cellared at the estate for a number of years, so we're very happy to have a new shipment of 2014 Regnié and 2015 and 2016 Morgons from Roland and Joëlle Pignard! The Pignards produced certified Biodynamic Regnié, Morgon and Beaujolais-Villages from their four and one-half hectares of hillside vineyards above Villié-Morgon. Preferring to use horse-power in the vineyard, their farming was similar to Christion Ducroux's and vinifications were with wild yeasts, with minimal extraction, seeking to emphazise balance and mineral characters in the wines.
We tasted the wines last Thursday and they are showing beatifully after their 4 to 6 years in bottle! The 2014 Regnié is lighter at 12% alcohol with pretty red fruit and floral aromas, just delicious and the 2025 and 2016 Morgons are darker and deeper with dense fruit that is opening nicely with earth, spice and mineral notes. The Morgon Traditions get an additional year of aging in old barrels - be sure to give them some time open or a decant. Our thanks to Joelle and Roland Pignard for these delicious Biodynamic Beaujolais - we hope you try them!
This is absolutely my kind of Beaujolais and truly magnificent wine. It is spilling over with really pure ripe strawberry - fruit as vivid as those I received from my CSA the same weekend. But despite the intensity of the fruit character, there is no sense of heaviness or clumsiness or excess alcohol. The wine is juicy and buoyant, with terrific acidity to balance out the ample red fruit. Honestly, trying to describe this wine in the usual fashion is pointless. Great cru Beaujolais is something I tasted a lot of early in my career and what I loved was the pleasure it inspires. I drank this bottle over three days and not only did it not fade, it stayed vibrant, shedding some baby fat and allowing more of the minerality to emerge. Utterly astonishing. Sam Ehrlich
As much as I love Burgundy, there are times that the occasion calls for a beautiful Beaujolais. And a sticky night in June is just such an occasion. And with a magret of duck from the Greenmarket and sautéed tatsoi, the newly-arrived Georges Descombes 2019 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes beckons. The robe is a marvelous mulberry purple. The nose is perfumed, with pretty notes of black raspberry, wild cherry, graphite, and spice. The ripe (but lithe) palate balances a juicy freshness of red berry and plum character with a fine-grained, earthy undercurrent of structure. But at the moment the ebullient fruit is singing with grilled duck breast (though I wouldn’t hesitate to pair with salmon, roasted zucchini and carrots with salsa verde, or saucisson) and playing off the bitterness of the mustard greens on the plate. This is a cracking bottle of Chiroubles that welcomes a light chill and seemingly banishes humidity. This should be a pleasure to taste over the next couple nights and warrants socking away a few bottles for a more mature drinking experience. This is sensational and but for a little granitic spice, this rivals the magical 2014 Regnié VV for sheer joy. John McIlwain
(Our note from 2018) 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, in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes. Biodynamic farming, no SO2 until a minimal dose before bottling, with a relatively short period of carbonic-maceration. The wine shows a bright medium red color with elegant aromas of black raspberry, black chery and earth with rose and violet. The palate is deep and ripe with firm acidity but stays light on its feet at 12.5% alcohol, with black and red fruits and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. The "Tradition" cuvée is slightly rounder and deeper, but there is little difference between the wines in this super vintage for the Pignards. Serve cool with chicken and pork dishes, and put a few bottles away for five years as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
(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
(Our note from 2018) The Pignard's Morgon Cuvée Tradition is simply superb in 2016. Good friends with Christian Ducroux, the Pignards practise similar methods of biodynamic farming and natural vinifications. Produced from steep hillside vineyards, the wine ferments naturally, with approximately 10mg of SO2 added and spends a year in vat followed by a year in old barriques. The 2016 vintage was a difficult one for the growers, resulting in low yields, but with a sunny late season that produced beautiful wines with pure fruit, light to medium body and firm acidity. The 2016 Morgon Tradition is a superb wine, showing a deep red color and aromas of ripe morello cherry, strawberry and black raspberry liqueur, with violet, rose, orange peel and earth. There is berry liqueur on the palate which is dense and long but not heavy. It's well balanced and bright at 12.5 % alcohol, finishing with sappy black fruits, citrus and earth. Serve in it's vibrant youth with steak frites, charcuterie, coq au vin and cow cheeses. This will be worth cellaring, best perhaps 2022 - 2030. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Georges Descombes is one of the premiere vignerons in Beaujolais. His farming is certified organic and his winemaking is very traditional; using native yeasts, semi-carbonic maceration, and very little sulfur added at bottling.The 2018 Morgon showed beautifully, tasted with Georges in early February, a bit fuller and deeper than the Regnié and Brouilly, showing ripe aromas of raspberry and strawberry with elegant strawbery liqueur, earth and minerals on the palate with terrific length. It's a gorgeous wine that should be served slightly chilled with just about anything - enjoy over the next three to five years. David Lillie
Georges Descombes is one of the great producers of natural Beaujolais - the Descombes Brouilly comes from 3.5 hectares on steep slopes, farmed organically. Carbonic maceration with whole clusters then a slow vertical press to finish the fermentation. No additives, a small addition of SO2 before bottling. The 2018 shows beautifully ripe but high-toned red fruits, with lovely aromas of strawberry, blackberry and violet with herbal and citrus notes. The palate is fresh and mineral, a bit lighter and brighter than the Morgon, infused with berry fruits and citrusy acids, and the finish is long and elegant. This is a lovely food-friendly Brouilly to serve, quite cool, with chicken, pork, charcuterie and mild cheeses. David Lillie
The 2019 Regnié from Geroges Descombes is a delicious and finely balanced wine, even in a warmer vintage, Ripe and generous fruit is offset with lively acidity and a vivid intensity on the palate that keeps this wine lifted and fresh. On the nose there are high-toned earthy, meaty aromas of red and black currant, black raspberry, black cherry, rose, violets, and licorice. The palate has soft and finely integrated tannins and a beautiful texture, showing notes of ripe strawberry, plum and raspberry liqueur, blackberry, pomegranate, orange peel, baking spice and a granitic minerality, especially on the supple, complex and satisfying finish. This is a very versatile wine, really a superb Beaujolais - drink now or hold for 5 to 8 years - highly recommended!
Pretty young to be checking in on the old vines cuvée, but these are unusual times to say the least. Dark ruby, verging in purple robe. Dusty crushed blackberries, violets, and a brambly note on the nose. Nothing roasted or overripe here, despite the black fruit. The palate is mid-weight and has fine sap and vigor, with succulent ripeness and plenty of dry extract to buffer the firm—not stern—tannins. There’s good tension between the bright, ripe, concentrated fruit and the substantial mineral core. The finish is long and layered with good lift and fine persistence. There’s good structure here and while this has plenty of charm now, this ought to dazzle with 5-7 years in the cellar and beyond. And while the prices have crept up, this is a steal given its breed and rivals plenty of very good villages wines from my beloved Côte d’Or in character and complexity. 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