• Four Crus of Grace: 2019 Guy Breton Beaujolais

    Four Crus of Grace: 2019 Guy Breton Beaujolais

    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.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 2018 Dutraive Fleurie:  Cuvée Champagne, Le Clos V.V. & More!

    2018 Dutraive Fleurie: Cuvée Champagne, Le Clos V.V. & More!

    2018 in Beaujolais marks a much-needed return for growers to good yields and very high quality with a dry harvest. The last couple vintages have not been kind for vignerons in each of these areas. Massive amounts of spring rain actually proved a blessing as July and August heatwaves came next, meaning reserves of accumulated ground water was more than sufficient during through this stretch. 2018 is a ripe vintage for sure, but as compared to the bombastic 2015's, the alcohol is lower, acidity higher, and freshness a big part of the finished product.

    Today, I'm happy to turn to Jean-Louis Dutraive's top range from Fleurie. Yields may be improved, but alas, this is Dutraive. Demand always outweighs supplies.

    As compared to other titans of Cru Beaujolais, Foillard and Lapierre, I find Dutraive's often lighter in color, with a more concentrated, lifted spice, and a more wild natural element that stands out from the pack due to his lower sulphur protocol. Waiting several years after release to get into top cuvées has been a big goal of mine, as the rare aged Dutraive is pure magic when fruit begins to fall more to the background and exotic spices become more prominent.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The Last Chapter of Beaujolais:  Métras Fleurie

    The Last Chapter of Beaujolais: Métras Fleurie

    When I travel to France there's always one producer I crave to drink, Yvon Métras. The Fleurie-based vigneron is famous for spellbinding and pillow-soft Gamay with a magic touch of complexity often calling to mind Grand Cru Burgundy before Beaujolais. That's obviously a bold statement, but I've lost count of the times this thought struck me upon first sip. When the wines are on, there is nothing that hits the same high. Unfortunately, Yvon is equally famous for his disdain of paperwork, and so the wines that once were regularly imported to the US have, more or less, stopped.

    Today, I'm very happy to offer a wide range of Métras, including the debut of Yvon's son, Jules Métras' extraordinary 2016 Chiroubles.

    Métras' flagship Fleurie Vieilles Vignes is sourced primarily from two celebrated vineyards, La Madonne and Grille Midi. The former named for the church built on top of the steep hill, and the latter loosely translating to "roasts at noon", as this site garners substantial afternoon heat. Both parcels in these two vineyards are even more prized due to Yvon's collection of vines that top 120-years of age.

    Métras, like Foillard and Lapierre, was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jules Chauvet. Organic viticulture, native yeast ferments, and no sulphur additions. Yvon follows traditional whole cluster, semi-carbonic fermentation in concrete tanks prior to raising in neutral oak.

    If you, like me, have ever had that epiphany moment with Beaujolais where the subtle, yet thundering conviction of the wines strikes a chord, then Métras is akin to the ultimate, final discovery. 

    The Queen of Beaujolais, Fleurie is built around silken texture, pure red cherry and strawberry tones, and finely-woven granitic lacing. Where the Métras wines seem to go above and beyond even his greatest contemporaries is their gripping saturation and relentless finish, still gathering like a cloud on the palate. For Métras, much of the magic is in what we'll never learn, what's unable to be revealed through methods in the cuverie or the vineyard.. And it's this mystery that makes the experience that much more exhilarating to discover for yourself. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen