The opportunity to taste the best of Cru Beaujolais with age is, unfortunately, a rare treat. By nature, the juicy and supremely approchable Gamay-based wines are most commonly opened within a year of their release. 31 tables at the Rainbow Room at La Paulée's recent Verticals Tasting were filled with the best of Burgundy - Roumier,Lafon, Rousseau, Mugneret-Gibourg, D'Angerville, and one sole Cru Beaujolais: theClos de la Roilette of Fleurie.

The wines of the Coudert family are best known for their unrivaled complexity and track record of aging brilliantly. Set alongside Burgundy's most elite at La Paulée, the chance to taste different vintages side-by-side was a great reminder that the best of Cru Beaujolais greatly rewards the patient.

The story of Roilette's evolution in a fascinating one. The vineyards were historically classified as Moulin-à-Vent, and its owners proud of that designation. But, in the 1920's districts were re-drawn and the Fleurie appellation was created. This newfound appellation required to adorn labels enraged the owner of the Clos de Roilette. Instead of printing Fleurie in large text across the center of the label he chose to use a photo of his racehorse, and refused to sell his wines in France, exporting 100% of his production to neighboring countries.

In 1967 ownership had changed hands, and this now largely untended vineyard went into the thoughtful control of Fernand Coudert. Today, the wines are widely regarded as the benchmark of not only Fleurie, but the entire Beaujolais region.

The border of Moulin-à-Vent and Fleurie where the estate is located is home to clay-dominant vineyards. Whereas most of Beaujolais is on granite, the clay and maganese soils of Roilette give a darker and richer expression of Gamay. Blue and black fruits are abundant in all of the estate's wines. 

The Cuvée Tardive is the top wine of the estate, aged in large foudre. It's sourced from the oldest vines, 80-90 years in age. In each passing year the Tardive shows increasing elegance and begins to more closely resemble Pinot Noir. In blind tastings many times Beaujolais with 10+ years is nearly indistinguishable from Burgundy. At under $30 per bottle this wine personifies the value available in Cru Beaujolais.

Some notes on vintages:

2015: Very hot and dry year, conditions closest to 2009 and 2005. Powerful and structured. Wines still retained very good acidity given the warmer growing season.

2014: Mid-weight in style, with great concentration of fruit and very good structure. A classic vintage expected to age very well.

2012: A challenging vintage that produced wines that have proven to be accessible and soft from day one.

2011: A tremendous vintage for the region. Beautifully balanced wines that have it all, fruit, structure, and great freshness.

2009: The vintage that seemingly placed Cru Beaujolais into worldwide wine drinker's consciousness. Powerful and dark wines that saw high ripeness met with deep texture. More darker fruited than what's customarily found here.

2015 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive 
$29 per bottle.

2015 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive 1.5L
$74 per bottle.

2014 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive
$29 per bottle.

2014 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive 1.5L
$74 per bottle.

2012 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive
$29 per bottle.

2011 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive 1.5L
$79 per bottle.

2009 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie
$58 per bottle.

2009 Clos de le Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive 1.5L
$87 per bottle.