• Morgon Masterpiece

    Morgon Masterpiece

    From release through decades in bottle, no Cru Beaujolais producer consistently thrills like Jean Foillard. Young producers, like Yann Bertrand, call him a mentor, and other contemporaries call him the Morgon Master. Regardless of where your preferences lie within the unparalleled values found in Cru Beaujolais, Foillard is the benchmark.

    Yes, Foillard's wines are breathtaking after decades in bottle, but the true gift of Cru Beaujolais is its unrivaled approachability upon release. These top cuvées will improve and transform with time, but for those who don't care to wait so long, the silky, harmonious, and pure-fruited elements and perfect focus from day one are how Foillard earned his fame. He offers the best of both worlds!

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Côte Rôtie's Wild Side

    Côte Rôtie's Wild Side

    In July 2012, a friend and I experienced our first Bastille Day celebration in epic fashion at Marcel Lapierre's annual feast in Villié-Morgon. A few days later, it seemed fitting to meet with Jean-Michel Stephan atop the steep terraces of Côte Rôtie, who notes Lapierre as his greatest inspiration.

    Stephan takes an approach to vinification that differs drastically from his neighbors in Côte Rôtie. From his time in Villié-Morgon, Stephan's philosophy employs full carbonic fermentation, a process customarily reserved for Gamay in Beaujolais. Still, the most profound bottles hit the same mark as great traditionalists like Jamet, Benetière, and Levet.

    As Stephan explained to us, the whole clusters go into fermentation tanks free of sulfur additions. He pumps in some CO2, closes the hatch, and walks away. When he returns, the intracellular or carbonic fermentation is complete. This method gives a fruitier note to Syrah, but the use of whole clusters counters that with spice, tannin, and freshness.

    At first glance, Stephan's wines may come across as Côte Rôtie through a Beaujolais prism, but for me, they offer a mineral streak and wildly aromatic range that is so unique. The dark and brambly fruit is unadulterated through the complete absence of sulfur additions. With decanting, these young wines open up to reveal a side of Côte Rôtie that makes it feel like it's your first time drinking Syrah.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • "N" Marks the Spot: 2019 Lapierre Non-Sulfured Morgon

    I will always beat the drum for the new vintage of Lapierre Morgon, but when the non-sulphured cuvée is available for California I'm on cloud nine. No producer in Beaujolais surpasses Lapierre's satin texture and explosively juicy Gamay fruit.

    In some years the fruit is deemed to be ideal to exclude sulphur additions during each phase from harvest through fermentation, aging, and bottling. The risky proposition for others has been mastered over the years by Lapierre, and the Morgon from this estate is the model of soundness within this ultra-delicate framework.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2019 Lapierre release.

    2019 is the most exciting vintage in Morgon since 2016, harnessing the energy of that vintage with the intensity of fruit that warmer vintages bring. This is precisely the kind of vintage that I go deep on with Lapierre for my personal cellar.

    The non-sulphured cuvée that's commonly only available in California exuberates Gamay's bright strawberry fruit and granitic mineral core without any restraints. This is Lapierre in high-definition.

    The historical significance of Marcel Lapierre is firmly ingrained into the history books of French winemaking. Since 2010, Marcel's children Matthieu and Camille have carried on the natural approach that had placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.

    Marcel Lapierre took over the domaine in 1973 from his father, and in 1981 his encounter with Jules Chauvet set him on a course that would literally change the world of wine. Chauvet's strong words against using pesticides, herbicides, and cultured yeasts launched a shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. And along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four was unofficially founded. Their practices spread quickly and the proof in the pudding made clear this natural route was one that yielded wines of authenticity and joie de vivre.

    Posted by Max Kogod