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Great Beaujolais reminds us that wine should not be measured by a number, or by the status it confers upon the owner but rather by the enjoyment it brings at table with friends and by the work of the vigneron, shared with us in the glass. The growers featured today practice organic farming and take pride in preserving the fragile granite soils of Beaujolais, so easily eroded and destroyed by the use of herbicides and pesticides, while protecting the health of their families, co-workers and consumers. Their wines, produced with minimal, or sometimes zero preservatives and additives, are a more healthy and natural expression of their beautiful terroirs, and of the moment in time expressed through the vintage. And they happen to be superb, delicious, invigorating wines that are among the greatest food pairings to be found anywhere. Offered today are new arrivals from the wonderful 2014 vintage by a trio of superb estates - a year giving balanced wines with lovely fruit and moderate alcohol, as well a small quantity of Lapierre Morgon from the ripe and powerful 2015 harvest. Enjoy! (Normal case discount applies. Some inventory arrives Wednesday, 8/17)
Joëlle and Roland Pignard produce Biodynamic Regnié, Morgon and Beaujolais-Villages from their four and one-half hectares of steep hillside vineyards above Villié-Morgon. Preferring to use horse-power in the vineyard, their farming is similar to Christian Ducroux's and vinifications are with wild yeasts with minimal extraction, seeking to emphazise balance and mineral characters in the wines. The Pignards add a tiny amount of SO2 before bottling giving a total sulfur of about 10 - 20mg per liter. The wines are remarkably pure and natural and are among the most "terroir" expressive wines in Beaujolais. The line-up here from 2014 and 2015 is especially pleasurable and offers fantastic value.
Jean-Paul Thévenet consistently produces beautiful Morgon from his 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 C). Aging is mostly in old barrels from DRC with minimal extraction. This is always one of the most elegant natural wines of Beaujolais and is highly recommended, especially from this excellent vintage.
Joseph Chamonard of Domaine J. Chamonard was one of the first growers in Morgon to adopt the ideas of Jules Chauvet and quietly made some of the greatest Beaujolais on his small estate. His daughter Genevieve and her husband Jean-Claude Chanudet took over the estate in 1990 and have continued to make small quantities of superb Morgon. Not as well known as Lapierre, Foillard, Descombes and other stars of the region, the wines of Domaine Chamonard are certainly of equal quality and deserve your attention. Although M. Chanudet eschews "biologique" certification, the vineyard work is exemplary, with only organic treatments and plowing in spring and early summer. The domaine has about 4 hectares of massale-selection vines averaging over 60 years-old, principally in the parcels of les Martillets, Chenes and Corcelette, planted at 10,000 vines per hectare.
The beautiful wines of Domaine Marcel Lapierre, now produced by his son Matthieu and daughter Camille, need no introduction. We offer a few quotes from an interview with Marcel Lapierre in "Le Vin Au Naturel" by Francois Morel. "The method of winemaking - one could say 'natural' of the past - disappeared between 1960 and 1980, aside from a few of the ancients. I started in 1973 and I practised the modern method learned in school. Pick early, sulfite, add sugar, it was the golden rule. The first time I met Jules Chauvet , he told me 'The two breasts of the Beaujolais, they're sugar and sulfur!' It was after 1980 that I wanted to make wine like my grandfather, but with the scientific learning of Jules Chauvet. 'Natural' wines, they're wines by vignerons who work like their grand-parents, not in a manner of the past, but in a manner of understanding and intelligence. Natural wine, it's not a doctrine, it's an ideal: the ideal, it's to vinify without additives, respecting the terroir - the place where the grapes come from - and the vintage."
The Pignards work 4.5 hectares in and around Morgon and Regnié. Biodynamic farming, natural fermentations and minimal SO2. We've walked through their vineyards, which are absolutely beautiful — "wine is made in the vineyard" say the Pignards and it shows in the gorgeous fruit and mineral character in their wines. The 2015 Beaujolais-Villages is from 40 to 60 year-old vines on decomposed granite soils in high-elevation parcels above Morgon. The wine shows very bright aromas of strawberry and cherry fruit with violet and citrus, quite pure and lovely. The palate is beautifully balanced for a 2015, at 13 % alcohol, with pretty berry fruits backed by saline minerals and firm acidity. This is "gouleyant" - simply delicious and easy-drinking! Serve quite cool with just about anything, and leave a few in the cellar, as this wine has the structure to age for a few years as well.
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.
2014 proved to be an excellent vintage for many growers in Beaujolais, and we are thrilled to announce the arrival of Joelle and Roland Pignard’s wines! 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 Villié-Morgon. The nose offers plummy, dusty fruit, with hints of cranberry, raspberry seed, and savory herbs. Over time it plumps up a bit showing lovely wild strawberry and morello cherry aromas along with a hint of graphite and a gamey quality. High-toned red berry fruit comes forward on the palate along with damp earth and red cherries backed by silky tannins and a crunchy minerality. Very pretty served quite cool now, but there is no doubt that this would age well over the next few years. Tim Gagnon (Tasted again in November, 2016, the wine shows deeper, sappy cherry fruit that coats the palate, and is much more supple and forward. Really a lovely Morgon that's beginning to open up - delicious right now, this will soften and develop over the next five to eight years.)
While the “regular” Morgon is aged entirely in concrete vats before release, Tradition has an extended elévage in neutral barriques before release (think Griffe du Marquis from Alain Coudert). This serves to add depth to the wine, while also softening and rounding it, making for a very unique expression of the Pignards’ terroir. Exuberant on the nose with bright red and black cherry fruit, red licorice, brown spice, and strawberry compote rising from the glass. The palate is broad and supple with bright red fruit flavors along with a hint of fresh cream, tangerine peel, ample minerality, and fine-grained tannins. This wine is definitely structured to age, probably best in 5-10 years, but is lovely now in its energetic youth paired with steaks, game birds, or pork. Tim Gagnon
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. 2014 was a classic vintage for Beaujolais, as poor early weather gave way to sunshine from mid-August, producing well-balanced wines with good ripeness and firm acidity. The 2014 Thevenet shows reduction, then complex aromas of red currant, strawberry, earth, violet, blood orange, spice and licorice.The palate shows bright red currant and berry liqueur with mineral, citrus, rose and spice. The finish is firm with fruit and mineral flavors with good density and length. Decant if drinking now, this superb Morgon will be best from 2020 to 2025 and beyond.
This belongs in your cellar! 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 C). Aging is mostly in old barrels from DRC with minimal extraction. 2014 was a classic vintage for Beaujolais, as poor early weather gave way to sunshine from mid-August, producing well-balanced wines with good ripeness and firm acidity. The 2014 Thevenet shows reduction, then complex aromas of red currant, strawberry, earth, violet, blood orange, spice and licorice. The palate shows bright red currant and berry liqueur with mineral, citrus, rose and spice. The finish is firm with fruit and mineral flavors with good density and length. Decant if drinking now, this superb Morgon will be best from 2020 to 2025 and beyond.
Matthieu and Camille Lapierre continue the beautiful work of their father, producing an elegant Morgon in the difficult, very ripe 2015 vintage. The wine shows lovely deep aromas of blackberry liqueur and earth lifted by hints of citrus, violet and mint. The palate is ripe and supple with plum, blackberry, earth, spice and citrus. The finish is ripe, soft and lovely. We would recommend drinking this juicy Morgon, served quite cool, over the next five years, but longer term aging might be possible as well.
From four hectares of massale-selection, high density plantings ranging from 50 to 100 years of age in the lieu-dits of Chenes, Corcelette, and les Martillets. Vigneron Jean-Claude Chanudet works the vineyards organically but does not seek certification. The 2014 Clos de Lys shows complex aromas of strawberry and black cherry, pepper, blood orange and musk with hints of earth and graphite. The palate is dense but not at all heavy with equal parts dark fruits and earthy flavors that continue in the long finish. After long aeration, the aromas are more focused and elegant while the palate remains a bit austere with earthy berry fruits, quite well structured, predicting good aging potential. Fans of Lapierre or Foillard should definitely try the wines from Chamonard, which are certainly among the finest of the Chauvet-style Beaujolais - this is a lovely natural Morgon that will benefit from decanting if drinking now, and will probably show best (as usual with Chamonard) at between five and ten years of age.