A Great Beaujolais: 2014 Cédric Chignard Julienas "Beauvernay," and Other Favorites!

12/1/16 -

We have always loved the Fleurie "les Moriers" from Domaine Chignard - always one of the most elegant Beaujolais, sometimes a bit austere in it's youth, but always beautifully balanced, with pure fruit and good density and length. A few years ago, Cédric began producing a new cuvéee from a vineyard in his mother's family - the Juliénas "Beauvernay," and we greatly enjoyed the light but extremely pretty 2012. 2014 is our favorite recent vintage in Beaujolais - not an easy year for the vignerons, but the sunny weather from mid-August through September helped produce ripe fruit with good acidity and freshness, and the 2014 "Beauvernay" is outstanding! Since 2007 Cédric Chignard has taken over the direction of the estate, although aided by his father Michel. Cédric's style seems nearly identical to his father's, with plowing and good vineyard work (though not certified organic) and a very light hand in the cellar, with minimal extraction and aging in old barrels, foudres and vats, depending on the wine and vintage. "Beauvernay" is a south-facing slope of high-density 60 year-old vines on blue volcanic soil. The wine is  simply delicious - a real joy to drink, with gorgeous, complex fruit, moderate alcohol, great balance and wonderful stony density that foretells excellent mid-term aging. Approximately 12 cases are available with the possibility of a bit more in the Spring - this wine is highly recommended, and reasonably priced! (Arrival Monday 12/5)

While we're on the subject of Great Beaujolais, we have some new arrivals worthy of your attention and have re-tasted a few of our favorites that are now showing beautifully. First, the 2015 Christian Ducroux Exspectatia - this is one of the great natural wines of France, a product of perhaps the greatest and most thoughtful vineyard work we have ever seen. The wine is extraordinary -  complex, delicious and very "alive," and should cellar well for five to eight years. Certified Biodynamic, no added SO2, best to finish the day you open it, which will be very easy...

We have been enjoying the Fleurie's of Fernand and Alain Coudert for the last twenty-five years, and we're happy to report that a little time in bottle has smoothed out the 2015s from this superb estate. The lighter "Cuvée Christal" is perfect for current drinking and the "Clos de la Roilette" and "Cuvée Tardive" are both big, gorgeous wines that are delicious now and will cellar beautifully for five to ten years. The "Cuvée Tardive" in particular shows great aging potential - a limited amount is still available.

Another of our most favorite producers is Jean-Claude Chanudet at Domaine Chamonard - his 2015 Fleurie "la Madone" is one of the finest 2015s we've tasted, with the depth and darker fruit of this vintage tempered by refreshing acidity - it's delicious now and will be superb after three to five years of aging. And Jean-Claude's 2014 Morgon "Le Clos des Lys" is superb as well in the lighter and more balanced style of the 2014s.

The wines of Joëlle and Roland Pignard deserve their own article, but we'll just mention here that their 2014s are now drinking sensationally, especialy the Morgon, and that the Morgon Cuvée Tradition, that spends an additional year in old barrels, is a delicous, prime candidate for aging. Due to the Pignard's manificent biodynamic farming, these are almong the most terroir-expressive wines in Beaujolais, and we urge you to try them!   -David Lillie

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