Beaujolais Crus Easter 2013
Some people were uncertain about Beaujolais, remembering the“headache in a bottle” of the Nouveau nineties and the lesser generic Beaujolais of the cheaper supermarkets, so it was decided to concentrate on the ten “Beaujolais Crus”. After the usual search for an hotel we returned to “le Villon” in Villié-Morgon, which is under new ownership since we stayed in 2005.
The welcoming drink supplied by Monsieur Ter was a “Communard”- the Beaujolais take on Kir, made with red Beaujolais and Cassis. Dinner was a regional meal with, of course, local wine.
The opening visit was a few miles to the west to the Domaine of Gérard and Germaine Brisson-the producers of excellent Morgon ‘Les Charmes’.Standing on the edge of the vines they gave an excellent and witty introduction to the region – interrupted only by a number of hares running across the bottomof the vineyard. The tasting in the cellar was a surprise to most since it showed that Beaujolais, and Morgon inparticular has good ageing potential. The 2003 and the 2005 were drinking verywell.
At the end of the morning we drove to Cercié and the ancient Château de la Terrière, the home of, a group of wineries, “Terroir et Talents”. Greeted by Monsieur de Cuyper. He showed the vines and the winery and thehistoric château. The property faces the Mont de Brouilly but the wines fromthe gently sloping hillside of purple stone, were from the Brouilly appellation, markedly different from those from the Côte. After tasting a well- balanced Beaujolais Blanc, a Regnié , a Fleurie and a powerful Moulin à Vent there was a very good buffet lunch and more of the wines.
The third visit was the only repeat visit for the Society and the only one that was not to a Cru Beaujolais vineyard. Château de la Lavernette, owned and run by the Franc-Dutch de Boisson family, is in Beaujolais Leynes. More interestingly it is on the border of Beaujolais and Pouilly-Fuissé so we tasted Beaujolais Blanc alongside its Beaujolais neighbour. This was just as well since all the red had been sold. Since the previous visit the domain has been converted to Biodynamic.
Yet another Cru- this time Juliénas at the Domaine Pascal Granger. The visit started in the Cellier de l’Ancien Église –the old church of the village, which has been disused since the 14th century. The Granger operation has been making some of its wines there for more than a century. It is a cross between a tank hall and a museum. We learned a lot about the appellation before walking through the vines to the winery to taste not only Juliénas (particularly the oak-aged Grande Réserve) but a Beaujolais Villages and a well-structured Moulin à Vent.
It was just a short ride to the heights of Chiroubles and the beautifully sited Château de Javernand, where we were welcomed by Pierre Prost and his wife Mathilde, a sculptor, and his cousin Arthur Fourneau. A steep climb up through the vines not only opened up even more spectacular views bit allowed a comprehensive introduction to their method of viticulture and what they are doing to remodel the vineyard to minimise the effect of heavy rain on steep slopes.
After descending, the group gathered on the terrace for a comprehensive tasting of the domaine’s light,fruity and yet complex Chiroubles and the fresh Macon Villages, accompanied by a selection of charcuterie. Lunch followed inside the winery accompanied by more wine.
A short drive back to Morgon and the estate of Laurent Gauthier, which has been in his family since 1834 and it includes two hectares of the excellent Côte de Py. He is a member of “Terroirs Originels". The group was founded in 1997 when a group of like-minded young winemakers with a passionfor “terroir” and the know-how of artisan wine making created an alliance that looked after marketing, and distribution. We were joined by two other members to show their wines, Robert Perroud with his elegant Côte de Brouilly and Pascal Berthier with his seductive St. Amour. The visit was arranged by the charming Cyrielle Jaquet who runs the group’s press relations and helps with international sales.
Friday brought dull weather for the visit to Château de Blaceret Roy in St Etienne des Ouillieres, the fiefdom of the extravert Thierry Canard who uses his large premises as a venue for weddings and parties. He makes a vast range of wines from almost every Cru and “Villages” area large premises. We were given most of them to taste, some excellent, some interesting. He has no English but his enthusiasm and exuberance almost made his Russian lady interpreter redundant.
The customary final evening gourmet dinner was probably the highlight of the trip. The Auberge de Clochemerle in Vaux en Beaujolais (the village of Gabriel Chevalier’s classic novel) is run by chef Romain Barthe and his sommelier wife Delphine boasts a Michelin rosette, but judging by the quality of the meal a second cannot be far away, many of the group said that it was one of the best, if not the best, they had eaten. A fitting ending to a trip that opened many eyes to the merits of Cru Beaujolais.