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2006 Côte-de-Brouilly

Nicole Chanrion

2006 Côte-de-Brouilly Nicole Chanrion - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
Today's selection comes straight from Nicole Chanrion’s cellar at the foot of Mont Brouilly, in the Beaujolais. Nicole, who took over the small family winery from her father in 1988, crafts an authentic, soulful Côte-de-Brouilly from the schist slopes of this extinct volcano. It all starts in the vineyard, where she works Gamay vines averaging more than fifty years of age planted at traditional high density. The low yields obtained from these rocky parcels are essential to producing concentrated wines, granting excellent cellaring potential in balanced vintages like 2006. Vinified via whole-cluster fermentation and aged in massive, century-old oak foudres, this wine exudes loads of early-drinking charm, but after a decade in bottle, a different beast has emerged. Earthy herbs and spices with hints of blood orange and game dominate, while a crunchy, schistous mineral backbone holds it all together.

I enjoy serving it to Beaujolais novices and doubters who will be surprised to discover the liveliness and complexity of a "simple" Gamay ten years later. Burgundy lovers seeking aged wine at reasonable prices will also appreciate Nicole's 2006, which rivals many reds from the more prestigious appellations further north. A testament to the aging potential of great cru Beaujolais, this Côte-de-Brouilly is not to be taken lightly.

Anthony Lynch

Vintage: 2006
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Gamay
Appellation: Côte-de-Brouilly
Country: France
Region: Beaujolais
Producer: Nicole Chanrion
Winemaker: Nicole Chanrion
Vineyard: 50 years, 3.5 ha
Soil: Schist, Porphyry
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Alcohol: 12.5%

More from this Producer or Region

About Beaujolais

After years of the region’s reputation being co-opted by mass-produced Beaujolais Nouveau and the prevalence of industrial farming, the fortunes of vignerons from the Beaujolais have been on the rise in the past couple of decades. Much of this change is due to Jules Chauvet, a prominent Beaujolais producer who Kermit worked with in the 1980s and arguably the father of the natural wine movement, who advocated not using herbicides or pesticides in vineyards, not chaptalizing, fermenting with ambient yeasts, and vinifying without SO2. Chief among Chauvet’s followers was Marcel Lapierre and his three friends, Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet—a group of Morgon producers who Kermit dubbed “the Gang of Four.” The espousal of Chauvet’s methods led to a dramatic change in quality of wines from Beaujolais and with that an increased interest and appreciation for the AOC crus, Villages, and regular Beaujolais bottlings.

The crus of Beaujolais are interpreted through the Gamay grape and each illuminate the variety of great terroirs available in the region. Distinguishing itself from the clay and limestone of Burgundy, Beaujolais soils are predominantly decomposed granite, with pockets of blue volcanic rock. The primary vinification method is carbonic maceration, where grapes are not crushed, but instead whole clusters are placed in a tank, thus allowing fermentation to take place inside each grape berry.

Much like the easy-going and friendly nature of many Beaujolais vignerons, the wines too have a lively and easy-drinking spirit. They are versatile at table but make particularly good matches with the local pork sausages and charcuterie. Though often considered a wine that must be drunk young, many of the top crus offer great aging potential.

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