• Jean-Louis Dutraive: Fleurie's Bright Light
    Jean-Louis Dutraive: Fleurie's Bright Light

    Jean-Louis Dutraive's entire stable of wines falls into the elite category of Cru Beaujolais. While he has various parcels in Fleurie, the Clos de la Grand Cour always thrills me for its lightness and ethereal pitch.

    The Clos de la Grand Cour is a true walled-in vineyard, with up to 80-year-old vines growing on almost pure granite with a thin topsoil. The wine ages 35% in stainless steel, 30% in fûts de chêne, and 30% foudres for 9 to 12 months. Lifted spices meet fresh raspberry and cherry to give a delicate wine with a deep texture and a long finish.

    The old-vine cuvée, Le Clos, takes the concentration and intensity up with darker red fruits and penetrating salinity. With its deeper soils, the Chapelle des Bois gives a more satiny texture with less incisive minerality. And the Brouilly shows a more muscular side of Dutraive's still charming and approachable form.

    Compared to other titans of Beaujolais, I find Dutraive's wines are often lighter in color, with more lifted spice and a wild, natural element that stands out due to a low sulfur protocol. I try to wait several years after release to tap into these top cuvées. Aged Dutraive is pure magic when fruit begins to fall to the background, and exotic spices become more prominent.

    The 2022s are a giant success at this address and prove that Jean-Louis is still one of the benchmarks of the Beaujolais.

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    Photo by Ted Vance