2012 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie from Alain Coudert!

8/1/13 -

It's been 21 or 22 years since we first tasted with Fernand and Alain Coudert at the Clos de la Roilette. Alain may have just taken over from his father but Fernand was very much in charge at the bar. Great stories and back vintages flowed - it was a first-rate lesson in the ageability of Beaujolais - a lesson that continues with every visit to this superb estate. The quiet and affable Alain makes some of the finest wines in the Beaujolais, principally from vines near the cellar, close to Moulin-a-Vent. The soils here have more clay and manganese than is typical in Fleurie. These well-structured wines can age beautifully for ten to fifteen years or more, depending on the vintage, especially the Cuvée Tardive, from eighty-plus year-old vines. ("Tardive" implies that one should drink the wine later, not that it is a late-harvest wine.)  "We work the the soils manually about twice a year," says Alain,"but only superficially because I honestly think we'd rip the vines right out of the ground otherwise (especially the really old parcels). The idea of passing a tractor through the 80 year old vines that make the Cuvée Tardive, it's just impossible! Vinification is the traditional, semi-carbonic Beaujolais style. We do a submerged cap; we do temperature control and we use native yeasts. The idea is obviously to best express our terroir, because in Roilette, our soils are 25% clay (as opposed to the rest of the A.O.C which is all granite). This clay is only found in a 50 hectare radius, and the result is a more structured wine, somewhere between a "typical" Fleurie and a Moulin a Vent."

2012 in the Beaujolais, as in most of northern France, was quite difficult, with bad weather during the flowering and a great deal of mildew and oidium, resulting in yields that were down by 50 to 75%. Good weather in August and September brought ripe grapes with good acidity - really excellent quality, but unfortunately for the vignerons, tiny quantities of wine were produced. The Cuvée Tardive is in very short supply this year, especially in the 750ml bottles, as Alain bottled a large quantity of magnums and double-mags in this excellent vintage. Fortunately, the regular cuvée is oustanding in 2012 as well, and the more typical Fleurie, Cuvée Cristal, from younger vines on granite, is delicious for enjoyment over the next couple of years.

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