ARTISANAL BEAUJOLAIS 2015

Beaujolais? Well, it’s been a while since I have written about Beaujolais. Beaujolais used to be one of the most popular appellations from France. While Cru Beaujolais and fine Villages wines have always been available in Texas, the vast majority of the Beaujolais sold here was either nouveau Beaujolais or Beaujolais or Beaujolais Villages sold under the labels of Georges Dubouef, Louis Latour, and Louis Jadot. While all of the above are good commercial wines, they are still commercial wines and – as such – they have decreased in popularity (and sales) over the last few years.

So why write about Beaujolais now? Two reasons. These are not commercial wines. And they are all 2015.

Taking the second reason first, 2015 is the best overall vintage in France in a long time. Every wine growing area I can think of in France had the potential to make top quality wines in 2015. The Beaujolais wines from 2015 are the best since 2009 and may be better.

As to “not commercial wines” – these Beaujolais wines fit the definition of fine wine which is to say that they are wines from specific places with a personality as the motive force behind how they are made. They are wines of “person and place.” The personality and the place come through in the wines.

Another point in favor of all these wines is their relative value compared to Red Burgundy which they are stylistically close to. If you like fine Red Burgundy but are looking for wines in a more everyday price range, these could be your mother-lode.

The Domaines from GEORGES DUBOUEF
These are single-vineyard, site-specific wines from individual domaines that are made by Georges Dubouef using grapes only from those sites. Each wine is separate and distinct. They specificity and winemaking is tailored to the wine. Dubouef does a good job on their commercial wines but these small domaine bottlings meet the definition of fine wine.

Chateau des CAPITANS, Julienas – Beaujolais Cru, 2015     ($18.49)
100% Gamay “Remarkedly” Old Vine, SE facing, partial oak fermentation (10-15%).     Red-purple with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Deep and delicious with spice and freshness plenty of red fruit. Very Burgundian. YUM. BearScore: 92.

Domaine de COMBIATY, Brouilly – Beaujolais Cru, 2015   ($17.49)
100% Gamay from 60 year old vines, semi-carbonic fermentation followed by malo-lactic fermentation in tank.     Red color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and medium phenolics. WOW! Delicious, supple, serious but exhuberant. Pure red fruit and earthy mineral. YUM. BearScore: 93.

CLOS des QUATRE VENTS, Fleurie – Beaujolais Cru, 2015   ($17.49)
100% Gamay from 50 year old vines made using semi-carbonic and malolactic fermentation.     Red-purple color with well-formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Fresh and flowery with red fruit and subtle mineral earth. BearScore: 92+.

Chateau de SAINT AMOUR, Saint Armour – Beaujolais Cru, 2015   ($18.89)
100% Gamay from South facing vineyards, 20 years old vines, semi-carbonic fermentation.     Red-purple with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Utterly delicious, supple. Fesh red fruit and spice with a subtle mineral earth. Pure and complete. WOW. BearScore: 94+.

DOMAINE DUBOST
The estate (formerly called Domaine du Tracot) has been owned by the Dubost family since 1902. Its origin was found in writings and traces on the main building. With his two sons, Corentin and Joffrey, Jean-Paul hopes that the 4th generation will continue the family tradition in providing wines that reflect their terrior, the culture of the vineyard and respecting the environment and soil. These are surprisingly rich wines that reflect both Dubost’s devotion to Gamay and to quality.

Domaine DUBOST, Beaujolais Villages, 2015   ($14.99)
100% Gamay from 40 year old vines on rolling slopes of sand, limestone, and granite over a sandstone shelf in the heart of the Villages appellation between Beaujeu and Villie Morgon. Biodynamic and cropped at 36 hl/hc, handpicked grapes. Whole grape fermentation in concrete and steel tanks, 6-8 day at 20-25°, pressing and first racking, completion of alcoholic fermentation at 25° with daily pumping over for 20 minutes each day. Malolactic fermentation at 20°, racked and then raised undisturbed in concrete and steel tanks through the winter at 15°. No fining, light filtration.     Red-purple color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and medium phenolics. Fresh, juicy, ripe, dark red fruit and a lot of it. Some earth and a bit more spice. Delicious ripe drink of reference standard Beaujolais. YUM. BearScore: 91.

Domaine DUBOST le Vivier, Fleurie – Beaujolais Cru, 2015     ($21.84)
100% Gamay from 40 year old vines on le Vivier – rose granite and crystal composites on sloping hills 250-300 meters high. Biodynamic and cropped at 36 hl/hc, handpicked grapes. Semi-carbonic maceration: whole grape fermentation in concrete and steel tanks, 8-9 day carbonic maceration at low temperatures 20-25°, pressing and first racking, completion of alcoholic fermentation at 25° with daily pumping over for 20 minutes each day. Malolactic fermentation at 20°. Rackied and then raised undisturbed through the winter at 15°, 90% in concrete and steel tanks and 10% in 1-5 year old 500 liter oak barrels. No fining, light filtration.     Red-purple color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Delicious, juicy, darker red fruit with spice and dark floral and earth. Excellent cru Beaujolais. BearScore: 92+.

Domaine DUBOST Vielles Vignes, Brouilly – Cru Beaujolais, 2015     ($19.94)
100% Gamay from 80 year old vines on slopes of granite and limestone on blue schist subsoils in 3 climats in northern Brouilly. Biodynamic and cropped at 36 hl/hc. Handpicked grapes. Semi-carbonic maceration: 12 day whole grape fermentation in concrete and steel tanks, carbonic maceration at low temperatures 20-25°, pressing and first racking, completion of alcoholic fermentation at 25° with daily pumping over for 20 minutes each day. Malolactic fermentation at 20°. Racked and then raised undisturbed through the winter at 15° in concrete and steel tanks. No fining, light filtration.     Violet-purple color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics. Richer and earthier but still with plenty of dark juicy ripe red fruit. Hints of coffee here to go with dark floral. Has a welcome touch of rusticity which the owner says comes from the age of the vines. Serious Burgundian-style Beaujolais. BearScore: 93+.

Domaine DUBOST en Ballofiere, Morgon, 2015     ($19.94)
100% Gamay from 70 year old vines on slopes of granite and limestone on broken iron schist subsoils 250-300 meters high in the climat le Ballofiere. Biodynamic, and cropped at 36 hl/hc. Handpicked grapes. Total carbonic maceration: 15 day whole grape fermentation in concrete and steel tanks, carbonic maceration at low temperatures 20-25° with daily pumping over for 20 minutes each day. Malolactic fermentation at 20°. Racked and hen raised undisturbed through the winter at 15°, 67% in concrete and steel tanks and 33% in 1-5 year old 500 liter barrels. No fining, light filtration.     Deep-violet-purple color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium light phenolics. Supple, succulent, juicy ripe darker red fruit with sweet floral and spice. Delicious. Lovely in the mouth. BearScore: 93+.

Domaine DUBOST le Tracot en Brenay, Moulin-a-Vent, 2015     (24.69)
100% Gamay from 60 year old vines on slopes of manganese, granite and iron schist subsoils in a 25-300 meters high climat “en Brenay.” Biodynamic and cropped at 36 hl/hc. Handpicked grapes. Total carbonic maceration: 15 day whole grape fermentation in concrete and steel tanks, carbonic maceration at low temperatures 20-25° with daily pumping over for 20 minutes each day. Malolactic fermentation at 20°. Racked and then raised undisturbed through the winter at 15°, 67% in concrete and steel tanks and 33% in 1-5 year old 500 liter barrels. No fining, light filtration.     Red-purple color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium chewy phenolics. Sweet succulent red fruit but with a good bit of the stuffing of the more serious Brouilly. Delicious ripe, supple and alive, all while still serious and stolidly Burgundian. BearScore: 94+.

Jean Paul Dubost

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