A bottle of Cru Beaujolais was my epiphany red wine. It was a bottle from the cool 2008 vintage that shifted my perspective on wine, in short, because all of the vivid fruit and aroma on the nose didn't match what I expected to find on the palate. Instead of jammy, sweet fruit, I was met with an ultra-dry inflection of crispy, fresh, tart red berry fruits and a dead-serious mineral encore.
This was not my world of robust California reds or even the sun-kissed southern Rhône blends that had begun to pull me towards France. This was something entirely different, where fruit played 2nd fiddle, where the vine was just a canvas, a medium, for the sense of place (or terroir) that was the leading player.
I remember that first taste fondly, but those experiences have now become far too rare for my liking. Increasingly warmer temperatures have given a plushness and fruit-forward tone to most of Beaujolais. I can turn to a few names for that truly mineral-driven personality that sparked my interest in the region. Guy Breton's wines remind me of my past, somehow still being able to craft Cru Beaujolais founded on grace, precision, and that sense of place.
Today, I'm happy to offer four wines from Guy Breton's 2019 release.
Guy Breton, or Petit Max as his friends call him, is the member of the Gang of Four we hear about the least. Foillard, Lapierre, and Thévenet joined Breton in following Jules Chauvet's critical teachings on natural viticulture and non-interventionist winemaking. Among the four, Breton's wines show the greatest levity and fine-grained structure.
"Good unfiltered color. And the aroma? How about some pepper and spice? Aromas of pepper and spice are unusual in the Beaujolais, but Breton says the locals always spot his wines in blind tasting because his terroir typically gives such a perfume. The palate starts out lean and fine, and then you start to feel it penetrate and the flavors sink in." — Importer, Kermit Lynch
Breton's minuscule three hectares of vines focus mainly on Morgon and feature holdings in Chiroubles, Regnie, and Fleurie.
Chiroubles is sourced from 60-yr-old vines in the lieu-dit of Javernand, where we see a more sandy form of granite. The high elevation and soil here give a decidedly ethereal expression of Gamay.
Morgon Vieilles Vignes comes from 80-yr-old vines on granite and sand. The deepest and most concentrated wine of the domaine.
Regnie sources vines as old as 100 years from a granite and sand parcel. Located close to Morgon's famous Côte du Py, this vineyard brings a serious grip and structure, with mouth-watering acidity.
Fleurie is sourced from the famed climat, Poncie. Aged in used Burgundy barrels.