We met a group of young, promising winemakers over dinner. Mélina of Inter Beaujolais suggested we meet these people because she noted our interest in “natural” wine and several of these make bio or natural wine. All of these producers are much appreciated locally and some of these have already started exporting wine.Domaine Claire & Fabien ChasselayFabien ChasselayBeaujolais Blanc 2012
– nice acid for a wine that starts out gentle and ripe and fruit-forward. There's a touch of oak here, too, which I'd prefer not to be there.Beaujolais Rosé 2012
– light salmon pink, quite neutral aromas, ever so slightly earthy; nicely piercing acidity. Nice!Beaujolais Quatre Saisons 2012
– this is their entry level Gamay: it smells a bit lactic on opening but turns into a peppery, “syrah”-styled Gamay with a bit of air. Very light and juicy and easy drinking. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.Beaujolais Les Grands Eparcieux 2012
– was also a juicy, lighter styled wine with a spicy aroma. Again, not bad, but nothing special.Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois 2011
– to put it mildly, this was a huge step up. It smells very seductive and peachy; it's vinified in the Burgundian manner (i.e. not carbonic) and it even sees some new oak. Yet somehow the new oak aromas don't emerge from behind the sexy Fleurie aromas. I'd like to try this in a non-tasting situation because often when enjoying wine at home I'll find oak in a wine that I thought wasn't tainted by it in a tasting situation. And I think Gamay is one of those grapes like Nebbiolo that simply can't handle any new oak aromas at all.Chénas La Carrière 2011
– this is fermented in new oak barriques but aged in big old wood barrels. But still this smells more of oak than the Fleurie which is also aged in a small percentage of new barrique. The palate is better: the ripe vintage fruit is held in check by the racy acidity.Côte de Brouilly L'Héronde 2010
– This is aged 15 months in old wooden tanks. Mr. Chasselay thinks L'Héronde is the best plot in Côte de Brouilly. It's easy to understand his enthusiasm because this is wonderfully perfumed just like the Fleury; nice and crunchy style as expected from the year. Very attractive.Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2010
– 18 months in new Vosges barriques. At first it smells more of Pinot than oak, but sadly quickly it turns the other way around.Romain JambonJambon in front of Les Eronnes, BrouillyBrouilly Les Eronnes 2012
– this is a non-carbonic, aged in tank instead of wood; from 30-50 yo vines. It is tight and tannic and is quite lean. I like the pieces but it is in pieces. Hold.Brouilly Les Eronnes 2011
– wow! This is gorgeous! Very peachy; very fresh; quite high in tannins, too. Very attractive.Brouilly Les Vieux Ceps 2011
– from 50-80 yo vines; aged 12 months in five times used barriques. The nose is almost smoky; it isn't a very aromatic wine. But the palate is nice if you enjoy the Brun-style of slightly austere wine: tight, dense, tannic and with high acidity so the year's strong fruit is not so forward as in most other 2011s we tried. I think this will turn out nice, but for now: hold!Brouilly La Pointe des Einards 2011
– deep and dark aromas but it does have a welcome peachy perfume, too; great structure, fresh and crunchy acidity: it's almost like biting into a ripe red apple. Very nice!All in all, a very impressive range!Domaine des MarransMathieu Mélinand of Domaine des MarransChiroubles Vieilles Vignes 2011
– semi-carbonic; it starts out smelling a bit reductive and plasticy but turns out ok after some vigorous swirling: peachy and juicy. Nice enough but IMO not quite on the level of some others this dinner.Fleurie 2011
– a simple, juicy style with an attractive peach aroma; nothing wrong with this except that it just wasn't terribly exciting.Fleurie Terroir du Pavillion 2009 and 2011
– both were of a ripe style; but lacked some intensity. Ok, but outclassed.
Though to be frank, we did have an embarrassing amount of great wine open so I might have misjudged these Marrans. I need to try these again - they certainly were attractive enough that I am very willing to do so!Domaine David-BeaupèreLouis-Clément David-BeaupèreJuliénas La Bottière 2012
– a deep, dense, masculine wine; powerful, tannic and very young wine made in a non-carbonic Burgundian style. Very promising but a bit brutish now. Hold.Juliénas Claire David 2008
– this was L-C's first vintage and made in a semi-carbonic style and aged in stainless steel. Very floral and aromatic; pleasantly light and mature. Attractive.Julien SunierJulien SunierRégnié 2011
– Sunier's plots are right next to Morgon Côte du Py. It is made with carbonic maceration and grillage (if I understood correctly, it's a gentler form of pigeage since pigeage can be too tough for Gamay). A weird wine and I really need to try this again if I can find some because this is full of paradoxes: it is weightless in the mouth yet full of flavour; it is soft and textured more like cotton candy than wine; yet it is extremely lengthy and though I don't want to use a word like intense for such an ethereal wine, I don't know what else I could use! It tastes like there is nothing in your mouth when you drink it, yet it is at the same time the most flavourful drink imaginable. Certainly one of the most intriguing wines of the trip and I think it's pretty damn good. Maybe even outstanding.Morgon 2011
– this also has the Sunier paradox of weightlessness and full flavour. But it is a bit more tannic than the Régnié and with darker fruit aromas so it isn't quite as ethereal. Great wine anyway.Fleurie 2011
– I think Sunier might be a genius. Once again this has the lovely paradoxes I outlined above which make it hugely intriguing to drink. This Fleury also has nice gentle, floral, peachy aromas and is pretty soft yet with a persistent and refreshing finish (this comes from some of Fleuries higher plots at 470m altitude). Paul-Henri ThillardonP-H ThillardonChénas Les Carrières 2011
– a really fresh, aromatic Chénas; lively and moreish. Very nice.Chénas Les Vibrations 2011
– a bizarre experiment with an 8 month maceration (yes, you read that right: eight months) – all the other winemakers joked that it's good that Paul-Henri does such experiments so they won't have to. It is deep and tannic but not too harsh. It's interesting for sure, and it's perfectly drinkable and actually really good. But I do have to wonder what the benefits of such a long maceration might be?
I'm sure everyone is relieved that there are only two more posts on this Beaujolais trip!
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.