La Famille Foillard
by Tom Wolf
Few vignerons are more responsible for changing the perception of the Beaujolais than Jean Foillard. If the chaptalized reds and mass-produced Nouveaux that came to define the region at the end of the last century sit at one end of the Beaujolais spectrum, Jean’s gorgeous Morgons and benchmark Beaujolais-Villages stand tall at the other, showcasing the world-class potential of Gamay planted in the region’s best granite terroirs.
Now in his mid-twenties, Jean’s son Alex could have taken the easy route and joined his father’s illustrious domaine. Instead, he branched out a few years ago into a very distinct terroir, purchasing one hectare of old vines in Brouilly and producing something intriguingly different enough from Jean’s famous Morgons to catch your attention.
For this over-delivering Beaujolais-Villages, Jean sources organic grapes from excellent parcels around his village of Villié-Morgon as well as Lancié, Saint-Amour, and Saint-Étienne-la-Varenne, and ages the wine through an extended élevage more akin to that of his renowned Morgons than to other regional bottlings. Accordingly, the wine evolves slowly, becoming more poised and complete. Evoking pomegranate, rhubarb, and black tea, the result is a beautiful initiation to Jean’s house style, distinguished by a mesmerizing tension between depth, density, silkiness, and elegance.
When you consider the provenance of this wine from Les Charmes—the highest-elevation lieu-dit in Morgon—along with the cool 2021 vintage and Jean’s house style, which draws out the most velvety side of Gamay, it makes complete sense that this red showcases so much finesse. Lithe, floral, and delicate, it was made to be paired with sushi or seared tuna.
Brouilly’s La Folie vineyard is so named because it receives so much wind, thereby driving those who farm it mad. The wind also sweeps most of the topsoil off of this incredibly rocky land, rendering the wines from here unusually chiseled and firm for a cru that is otherwise known for elegance and suppleness. Even La Folie, however, can’t help but yield to the silky touch of a Foillard. Irresistibly floral, deep, and concentrated, this is Brouilly like you’ve never tasted it.