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"N" Marks the Spot: 2021 Lapierre Morgon
I will always beat the drum for Lapierre's Morgon, but when the non-sulfured cuvée is available in California, I'm on cloud nine. No producer in Beaujolais surpasses this Gamay's bright strawberry fruit and granitic mineral core without any restraints.
In some years, the fruit is deemed ideal to exclude sulfur additions during each phase from harvest through fermentation, aging, and bottling—such wines are marked with an "N" meaning they are non-sulfured. Proposing no sulfur is risky for others, but Lapierre has mastered it over the years. This estate's Morgon is the model of soundness with an ultra-delicate framework.
After taking over the family domaine in 1973, Marcel's encounter with Jules Chauvet in 1981 launched the shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. Along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four's practices spread quickly and made clear that the natural route yielded wines of authenticity and joie de vivre (joy of life). Since 2010, Marcel's children, Matthieu and Camille, have carried on the same natural approach that placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.
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2019 Cru Beaujolais: Dutraive, Yann Bertrand, & More
2009's hot growing season brought a bold, ripe personality to Beaujolais that year, and the style pulled in many new Bojo drinkers, myself included. If 2009 was the watershed moment for Cru Beaujolais, 2019 is a fitting vintage for comparison ten years later.
These days, though, Cru Bojo fans are crossing their fingers in hopes of a relatively cool growing season that'll result in wild herbs, snappy, tart red fruit, and a pronounced mineral spine. Moving forward, 2019 is as good as it gets! It was again a hot growing season, but vignerons are much more suited to managing threats from drought and burn. And compared to recent vintages, 2019 has an underlying tension and crisper form.
If I had to pick one producer who nailed this vintage's cooler-side-of-the-pillow, it'd have to be Guy Breton, as he's always one to pick on the earlier side and limit extraction, ensuring levity and freshness are the key markers. While some still love the bursting Beaujolais style, the producers listed below are my favorites in 2019. I dug deep to find the most classic examples of the vintage!
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Return of the Glou: 2020 Lapierre Raisins Gaulois
Of all the glou-glou wines in France, Lapierre's Raisins Gaulois perfectly suits this funny badge. Glou-glou is the sound of wine leaving the bottleneck when poured rapidly, and also for the sound of one's gulping. Lapierre may turn out dead serious Morgon, but this Beaujolais from young vines is released early to harness all of the plump and delicious Gamay fruit with pricing that makes it easy to stock up on.
Nearly all of the vines tapped for Raisins Gaulois comes from within the esteemed cru of Morgon, with small amounts of fruit from the larger Beaujolais appellation. Like all Lapierre wines, this is from organically farmed land, fermented with native yeasts and whole clusters. These young vines provide that fruit-forward, rambunctious, and unctuous Gamay grapey personality (Yes, that's an apt descriptor).
Marcel took over his father's domaine in 1973. Then, his encounter with Jules Chauvet in 1981 launched a shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. Along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four's practices spread quickly, yielding wines of authenticity and joie de vivre. Since 2010, Marcel's children Matthieu and Camille have carried on the natural approach that placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.
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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!