Vintage 2015 produced some exceptional wines in Beaujolais—exceptional in color, ripeness, power, and extract. The just-arrived 2016s, by contrast, more closely resemble what we are used to from the land of Gamay: bright, juicy wines with lively acidity and a perfume so irresistible it has been known to cause man to down liters of the stuff at a time, pausing only to deliver cuts of cured pork products and delectable cheese morsels to the kisser. That, if I may say so, is exceptional in its own right! Heed my warning: beware the dangers of fine Beaujolais.
Cédric Chignard’s seventy-year-old vines in the Beauvernay vineyard of Juliénas enjoy excellent exposure at high elevation, constantly whipped by cool winds. The soil here is not the granite that dominates the crus of Beaujolais, but a hard blue stone of volcanic origin also found on the Côte de Brouilly. Cédric fermented the wine naturally, aged it in foudres, and bottled without filtration, so this peculiar and unique terroir shines through in full earnest: lean, breezy, and crunchy—quite drinkably so, I might add.
Guy BretonFrance | Beaujolais | Beaujolais-Villages
Guy Breton, also known as P’tit Max, strives to make the kind of wines he likes to drink. His proclivity is for highly aromatic reds low in alcohol that are bottled unfiltered, with minimal sulfur. While he owns several parcels within the Morgon and Régnié crus of Beaujolais, he also has vineyards higher up in the hills that fall under the Beaujolais-Villages appellation. These cooler, high-altitude granite sites are perfectly suited to achieve his goal: brightly perfumed wines with lively, juicy fruit, lifted by a fresh acidity. The Cuvée Marylou, named for his daughter, is a great introduction to the house style, and a testament to how unbelievably gulpable Gamay becomes when farmed and vinified by one of the region’s best. P’tit Max prefers to enjoy his wines in copious quantity, in good company, and slightly chilled. We suggest you do the same—responsibly, of course.
You would expect a winemaking family to get things right after over half a millennium of honing their craft. Sure enough, Domaine Dupleuble—founded in 1512—is one of the most reliable names in the business when it comes to making irresistibly delicious, spirit-lifting Beaujolais. Today, siblings Ghislaine and Stéphane Dupeuble carry on the family tradition at their estate in the southern part of the Beaujolais region. In these charming hills just north of Lyon, soils alternate between limestone and granite, and the semi-continental climate—with slight Mediterranean influence—is ideal for ripening Gamay. The Dupeubles ferment their Beaujolais via carbonic maceration: whole, intact grape clusters are thrown into tanks and coated with carbon dioxide, setting off a chemical reaction wherein each berry essentially ferments from the inside out. The resulting wines have low levels of tannin and trademark aromas of juicy red fruit and spice, and can be gulped down effortlessly. This is what good Beaujolais is all about!
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