Stellar Example of the Beauty of Gamay!

by Chris Walsh September 23, 2016

Stellar Example of the Beauty of Gamay!

Dear Wine Lover,

Special things have been happening on the southern end of Burgundy over the last several years.  A steady increase in quality and complexity has been emanating from places like the Cote Chalonnaise and the Macon.  Not to be outdone, the vignerons in Beaujolais(technically still Burgundy albeit closer to the Northern Rhone than Beaune) have kept pace and are continuing to breathe new life into a region that has been misunderstood for a long time.  What’s as special about the skyrocketing quality coming from Beaujolais, is the wines are astounding values because the “market” doesn’t value the Gamay grape to the same extent as Pinot Noir.  In our opinion, while Gamay doesn’t typically reach the same level of finesse that Pinot can, it undoubtedly provides great drinking pleasure, with plenty to contemplate if that’s on your program.  

Today’s Beaujolais – Leonis Côte de Brouilly No. 2 from the triumphant 2014 vintage -- is a stellar example of the beauty of Gamay.  Raphael Champier and his partnerCristelle Lucca are turning out wines that can be from no place other than Beaujolais and from no grape other than Gamay.  All their wines are crafted with extraordinary care in anorganic fashion.  They are moving towards a fully biodynamic approach.  The No. 2 (named as such because it was their second vineyard) comes from the highly regarded Côte de Brouilly appellation, one of the 10 villages having attained Cru Beaujolais status.  More about the wine if you click the label, but this is black cherryraspberry, richly spiced,mineral inflected Cru Beaujolais from a perfectly oriented, steep, high altitude (for Beaujolais) site.

There is extraordinary contradiction in what Raphael and Cristelle are doing.  First, consider that Raphael is from a winemaking family, which still today, continue to work the land with the same methods used during the last generation (let's call it a more conservative approach) , which in many cases denuded the wines, their fragrance, elegance and sense of place.  Suffice it to say, this has led to some awkward family dinners for Raphael and Cristelle, especially when you consider Raphael has 14 siblings.  Juxtapose that against Raphael's on the job training with one of today’s standout biodynamic producers, Jean-Claude Lapalu.  Working for six years with Jean-Claude, at an evolutionary time for Lapalu, has definitely found its way into Raphael and Cristelle’s wines.  

They bottle a number of different wines from separate parcels – six or seven in a given year -- that comprise their roughly seven hectares of Gamay vines.  Everything is hand harvested with a tendency, like Lapalu, to pull the trigger early to ensure healthy acidity along with crunchy, ripe fruit.  Whole-cluster carbonic fermentation with natural yeasts in small steel tank takes place today.  In the future, they want to ferment in cement vat.  Which they’ll have the ability to do in their new cellar that they moved into in 2015.   Sulfur is added, if at all, only minimally at the time of bottling. 

Only 2000 bottles of the 2014 Côte de Brouilly No. 2 were made.  Our allocation was in the double digits!  Jump on it and have it in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays.  A perfect wine to pair alongside the Sébastien Brunet Chenin Blancs we offered out last week with all your holiday menus.

Cheers,
Chris & Michael

Click here to learn more about Raphael Champier & Cristelle Lucca and their Leonis wines!


Chris Walsh
Chris Walsh

Author



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