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2017 Chénas

La Soeur Cadette

The persistent risk of frost, hail, disease, or an unforeseen combination thereof over the last few years has forced many French winemakers to get creative, and Valentin Montanet is just the kind of scrappy vigneron who thrives under pressure. A case of nasty frost in Vézelay? You’d sooner find Valentin in a refrigerated truck headed south to buy grapes than mourning the diminished harvests in his own vineyards. “Since I’m a Burgundian making Beaujolais now, I had to find a place of my own,” he says, explaining his choice of the rarest cru in Beaujolais, Chénas. The vines are such antiques, even the grower can’t remember when they were planted. (“As long as I’ve owned them, they’ve been old,” he told Valentin.) Vinified whole-cluster and bottled unfiltered, this solid cuvée packs a powerful, structured punch balanced by ripe black fruit and approachable tannins. Watch out, Gang of Four, the Burgundian is in town!

Emily Spillmann

$30.00
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2017
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Gamay
Appellation: Chénas
Country: France
Region: Beaujolais
Producer: Domaine de la Cadette
Vineyard: 2.5 ha, 45 years
Soil: Granite
Farming: Organic (certified)
Alcohol: 12%

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.

More from Beaujolais or France

2017 Morgon

Guy Breton  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Morgon

$36.00

2016 Côte de Brouilly

Guy Breton  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Côte de Brouilly

$35.00

2016 Juliénas

La Soeur Cadette  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Juliénas

$30.00

2017 Beaujolais-Villages “Grandes Terres”

Quentin Harel  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Beaujolais Villages

$22.00

2017 Régnié

Guy Breton  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Régnié

$32.00

2017 Régnié “Grain & Granit”

Charly Thévenet  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Régnié

$34.00

2017 Moulin-à-Vent “Vieilles Vignes”

Domaine Diochon  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Moulin-à-Vent

$26.00

2017 Côte-de-Brouilly

Nicole Chanrion  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Côte-de-Brouilly

$23.00

2013 Juliénas “Beauvernay”

Domaine Chignard  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Julienas

$25.00

2017 Fleurie “Les Moriers”

Domaine Chignard  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Fleurie

$26.00

2017 Beaujolais Blanc “Clos de Rochebonne”

Château Thivin  France  |  Beaujolais  |  Côte de Brouilly

$29.00
$22.00

Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol


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