Sunday, June 28, 2009

France Trip Day Six – Beaujolais

Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly

After spending a good part of the morning in a great bookstore in Beaune, we headed down to Beaujolais, taking the back roads at first – through Mercurey and Givry – before finding our way back to the autoroute and racing down to Villie Morgon for our 3pm appointment with Marcel Lapierre. If you can believe it, we skipped lunch! Beaujolais is a different place from the Cote d’Or, with many more hills and valleys. It was another beautiful day.

Marcel Lapierre – Morgon
Maarcel Lapierre’s domain is certified organic (though they decline to label their wine as such, feeling their process is actually more stringent than certification requires), and they bottle 40% of their production without addition of sulphur. Average vine age is about 65 years, with some parcels over one hundred. They do not filter, but their wines are so pristine and clear you might think they did (until you taste them). We tasted with Marcel’s son Mathieu.

Morgon ’08 – sassy strawberry/floral, fresh and peppery
Morgon ’08 Sans Soufre – not unlike the first ’08, but a bit more tender and juicy.
Morgon MMVII Cuvee Marcel Lapierre – an old vines cuvee, with amazing concentration and depth.
Vin de Pays des Gaules – actually 100% Morgon ’08 from “young” (less than 20 years here) vines, only 5-6 day maceration as opposed to the regular 2-3 weeks.
Morgon ’07 Sans Soufre – pretty, ready to gulp
Morgon ’06 – a little reduction (sulphur) in the nose. This is a good thing, It blows off with a little swirling, leaving a deep, rich core of fruit.
Morgon ’05 – complex, spicy strawberries, savory, marvelous. Mathieu says this was a great vintage in Beaujolais.
Morgon ’03 – when we told Mathieu we hadn’t eaten lunch, he sent us back to the center of Morgon to a boulangerie to pick up snacks, giving us three opened bottles and this unopened bottles, to drink with our little picnic. The wine was delicious, as was the food.

Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly
We were hosted by the sixth generation Claude Geoffray at this incredible 13th century estate on the border between Brouilly and Cotes de Brouilly. The two crus differ in situation and soil composition. Brouilly soils are mostly pink granite, and they’re situated below on the lower land surrounding Mont Brouilly. Cote de Brouilly vineyards are on the steep slopes of the Mont Brouilly, and the soil is dominated by blue schist.

We tasted:
Beaujolais-Villages Blanc ’08 “Margeuritte” – 100% Chardonnay grown on a parcel in Cote de Brouilly with high clay content not great for Gamay, but ideal for Chardonnay.
Brouilly ’08 – Fresh, strawberry/white pepper – brilliant character, and completely different from Thivin’s Cote de Brouilly, even the label.
Cote de Brouilly ’08 – This is darker, almost blueberry – vivid, penetrating, not as overtly fruity as Brouilly, but terrific.
Brouilly ’07 – more fleshed out than ‘08, but still firm and fresh.
Cote de Brouilly ’07 – classic Thivin.
Cote de Brouilly ’06 Cuvée Zaccharie – oak-aged cuve selected from best lots in cellar – a different, deeper expression, but it works if you give it time.
Cote de Brouilly ’00 La Chapelle – a special parcel high on the slope – this is mature, but full of fruit – savory apricot/cherry/mushroom flavors. Neat.

We drove back to Beaune and dined at the Hotel. Another bottle of Philliponnat Rosé Champagne, then a fascinating white: Heritieres du Comte Lafon Macon-Bussiers ’03…the waiter was reluctant to serve it; he was probably afraid of the mold covering most of the label; but it was fresh, light in color, beautifully developed, maybe a little low in acidity, but delicious. We finished our last dinner in Beaune with Matrot Volnay-Santenots 1er Cru ’05 – terrific, if young yet…I’d be happy to have a case to follow its progress over the next decade or so.

Before I pack for our drive to Arbois tomorrow, a thought about the many ’07 Burgundies I tasted this visit. If you want to learn about what a place contributes to the taste and character of a wine, this is a perfect vintage. It’s not going to last as long as ’05, and the wines are not profoundly deep or concentrated. They are however pure expressions of grape and terroir and producer. Most important, they’re delicious to drink.

Time to pack. Until tomorrow


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