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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
Georges Descombes, one of the finest producers in Beaujolais, captured the lush fruit of the 2019 vintage with moderate alcohol, lovely aromas and silky, supple, lush fruit on the palate. Blackberry, red currant and violet aromas with hints of meat and chocolate; the palate is quite ripe and pretty with nice balancing acidity and freshness - this is a delicious Morgon in a riper style that will drink beautifully over the next five years. Serve with charcuterie, grilled pork and roast chicken, slightly chilled. DL
The Georges Descombes Regnié VV is a big, beautiful Gamay in this vintage known for ripe, full-bodied wines. The wine shows a deep red/black color and very floral aromas of ripe blackberry and red currant with hints of black cherry, earth and chocolate. The palate is deep and silky with surprisingly bright red currant and black cherry fruit liqueur, meaty and earthy, with a nice mineral kick in the long, lush finish. Serve this delicious Regnié with a steak or grilled meats and put a few in the basement for five to ten years.
This is the Desvignes family's fourth (?) bottling from the famous climat of Corcelette in northern Morgon. The parcel is made up of 40+-year-old vines on sandy pink granite soils on a southeast-facing hillside in the western part of Corcelette, a vineyard that seems to give a bright and vibrant style of Morgon. This is a full, quite deep-colored Morgon, with punchy black cherry and cooked raspberry fruit and a snap of acidity reminiscent of plum skin. There is plenty of weight and breadth in the mid-palate and the texture is lovely and fine-grained a hall mark of this vineyard site and the sandy soils. Sam Ehrlich
The Desvignes' parcels on the Côte du Py sit near the top of the famed hill. Now in the 8th generation of this family of winemakers, siblings Claude-Emmanuelle and Louis-Benoît work their parcels organically and hand harvest their 11 hectares in Morgon, looking for peak ripeness and healthy fruit to make elegant and structural, age-worthy wines. Grapes for this cuvée come from vines averaging around 70 years in age, planted on manganese-rich schist soils. Semi-carbonic fermentation and further aging on fine lees is in concrete tank. The 2020 Cote de Py shows lovely aromas of ripe blackberry with hints of violet, dark chocolate and earth. The palate is velvety and ripe with blackberry and black currant fruit with a nice chewy, earthy texture. There is nice balancing acidity and earthy mineral flavors to balance the copious fruit - serve cool and enjoy now or hold 5 - 8 years.
A welcome discovery and great new addition to the shelves here at CSW, the Chasselay "Beaujolais Is Not Dead" is utterly classic and joyous Beaujolais villages. The Chasselay family has thirteen hectares spread across eight appellations and have been certified organic since 2006. BIND comes from a single parcel of forty-five year old vines planted in clay and limestone, fermented carbonically and aged entirely in concrete, with no sulfur added until bottling. It is full of lovely concentrated red fruit, strawberry and raspberry, with beautiful spice and floral notes and no shortage of freshness. On the Chasselay website, they describe the wine as digeste, which is a word I have always loved - it implies a lack of heaviness, that the wine will not take up space as one keeps drinking. So buy two of these (or three or four), as you definitely want another. Sam Ehrlich
Christian Ducroux's unique "Esquisse" Rosé is a totally natural wine, made without sulfur-dioxide or other additives or adjustments, 100% Gamay from a high-altitude parcel above Thulon, and usually containing the secondary grapes ("grisemottes") harvested in late October. Low alcohol (11.5%) and ultra-refreshing... The 2020 shows a pale pink/orange color, the aromas show a hint of spice with creamy raspberry fruit with rose petal and citrus. The palate shows subtle, bright berry fruits, citrus and minerals with a touch of earthiness in the finish with firm acidity. Very refreshing, quite naturally delicious, serve quite cool with just about anything....
Christian Ducroux' 5 hectare estate has been certified organic and biodynamic since 1985, and has operated as a nearly self-sufficient farm, producing its own fertilizer and compost, and plowing and harvesting almost entirely without machinery. The vines average over 60 years of age and are replaced by massale selection, giving extremely low yields. The vines co-exist with a wild proliferation of vegetation which is minimally controlled by horse-drawn plowing. (Christian has been practising this type of regenerative agriculture for 35 years, and he's very happy that more vineyards are now using these methods!) The 2020 shows a bright, clear red/garnet color, with elegant high-toned raspberry aromas with violet, earth and citrus. The palate shows lovely purity of fruit, less weight than the riper 2019, but better balance and brightness with raspberry, plum, earth and mineral flavors that continue in the long clean finish. With time open the aromas have broadened to include blackberry, anise and spice and the flavors darken with black fruits and earth. Really a fascinating glass of pure juice! As with many wines without SO2, it's probably best consumed on the day open, but cellaring of 8 to 10 years should be quite interesting. Bravo to Christian Ducroux! David Lillie
Certified organic since 2009, the Dutraive family's Domaine de la Grand Cour produces subtle, traditional wines from their 9 hectares in Fleurie and a small parcel in Brouilly. Harvested by hand, the grapes ferment with wild yeasts in carbonic maceration, without addition of sulfur. The "Clos de la Grand Cour" is aged in a combination of cuve inox, barrels and foudres.
Starting with beautiful biodynamic grapes from Roland Pignard on "les Charmes" in Morgon, Julien worked his magic in the cellar with his zero-sulfur semi-carbonic vinification and the result is this superb Morgon from great terroir. The wine shows the ripeness of this excellent vintage in Beaujolais and the intense flavors of terroir always present in the Pignard wines over the years. Julien's vinification has created a beautifully balanced and pretty wine with fabulous length - drink now or cellar 5 to 10 years, only 36 btls in the US... DL
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. No added sulfur during vinification, 10mg/Liter SO2 added before bottling, no filtration. The 2017 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 well balanced at 13% alcohol. Decant in advance if drinking now, best served cool with a steak or grilled pork. Drink over the next 5 - 8 years.
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. The 2020 La Croix des Rameaux has dark ruby, verging on purple, robe. High toned, pretty armomas of dried violets, pastilles, blackberry seed, pomegranate, and loam swirl on the nose. The palate is concentrated and supple, with black cherry, cherry stone, black tea and brambly wild berry flavors over a punchy mineral core, with just a hint of wild herbs bringing up the long, lingering finish. There‘s still some structure here to resolve, but this should shine with another year or so in bottle as the structural elements knit. This is a lovely expression of Brouilly and not to be missed. John McIlwain
The Mont Brouilly, a volcanic "bump" in the granite bedrocks of the Beaujolais, is a terroir of mineral-rich bluish rock with little or no soil, giving a quite different character to the wines. The Lapalu 2020 is from a one hectare parcel of old vines with northeast exposure, so late to ripen. The fruit was 80% destemmed and 20% whole cluster carbonic maceration, with 10 mg/liter of SO2 added only before bottling. The 2020 Lapalu Côte de Brouilly boasts a vibrant purple robe. The nose offers a high-toned mélange of plum skin, raspberry seed, cassis, crushed herbs, and spice. The palate is racy and imbued with wild blueberry, Italian plum, and mulberry flavors dancing across the palate. Bright on the attack, the wine tends more toward succulent fruit and joyous energy rather than firm structure with dusty tannins and bright acidity. This is delicious juicy fun now with enough savory notes to give it a place at the table, though it certainly has the balance for near-term aging. John McIlwain
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 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!
Jean-Paul Brun's Côte de Brouilly, from Domaine des Terres Dorées, is always a lovely wine, showing unique and very pretty aromas in a medium-bodied style. In the very ripe vintage of 2019, the wine shows elegant red currant, tart cherry and blackberry aromas with hints of earth, meat, citrus and pepper. Blackberry and black cherry fruit continue on the very earthy and mineral palate. Jean-Paul's Burgundy vinification seems to have suited the vintage, as the wine is well balanced, though certainly darker and more structured than usual. Serve cool with a steak or grilled pork and lamb, or cellar for three to five years as the wine will definitely benefit from aging.
Jean-Paul Brun's Chardonnay comes from 35 year-old vines grown on sandy clay and limestone soils in the southern Beaujolais and is raised in stainless steel (no oak). Bright aromas of peach, apricot, lemon zest, and thyme lead to flavors of pure white fruits, juicy lime, crisp orange blossom, subtle herbal undertones, and a long chalky finish. Paired with salad, seafood,chicken, goat milk cheeses, or nothing at all, this is a beautiful choice and great value in white Burgundy!