Exciting things are happening in the Beaujolais: following the outbreak of terroir-driven natural winemaking inspired by Jules Chauvet and spearheaded by the likes of Marcel Lapierre and Jean Foillard in the 1980s, a new generation is now following in the footsteps of these early pioneers to make the region one of France’s most dynamic. Quentin Harel perfectly epitomizes this explosion of young talent, having recently taken over the family domaine in the town of Saint-Étienne-des-Oullières, just south of the Côte de Brouilly.
Quentin’s parents began farming organically long before the revival of sustainable viticulture that is sweeping through the Beaujolais today. Their Beaujolais-Villages vineyards have been certified organic since 1990, a time when neighbors looked down on the Harels as radical outliers to the standard of conventional farming. In the cellar, Quentin exercises a light hand with low intervention: vinification is traditional, via whole-cluster fermentation using indigenous yeasts before élevage in tank. He bottles unfined and unfiltered with very low sulfur additions, giving quintessential Beaujolais quaffers full of early-drinking charm.