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Beaujolais’ Natural Wine: Pure Grape!

24 Mar

M&C Lapierre à Villié-Morgon 2014(Rhone) Morgon, Beaujolais, France. 12%ABV, $28/bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits.

I used to enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau, until I tasted high end Beaujolais wines. Once you’ve experienced the joy of a beautiful, pure and clean bottle of premiere cru gamay, it’s hard to go back. So when I received an offer for a Lapierre Morgon, I thought about it for a whopping three milliseconds and made a phone call.
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Here’s the deal: Mathieu Lapierre is a third-generation winemaker working these 60-plus year old vines. I adored his father Marcel’s work, and the wines have only improved since that time. More importantly, the Lapierre Morgon wines are strictly organic and natural- the bottles I have include the “N” classification on the back label, which indicates that there was no added sulfur, no filtration, and that the wines must stay under 14ºC  (that’s 57.4º F). The winemaker goes to extreme lengths to insure the grapes have natural fermentation from indigenous yeast, zero added yeasts. I like to think that Lapierre (and fellow winemakers Jean Foillard & Guy Breton, whose wines are among my favorites from this region) are making Beaujolais the way it was done for thousands of years- in the purest form, little to no interruption of any fashion.

I’ll stop waxing about natural winemaking. So you know: it’s just pure grape juice. Fine, now you know. But is it any good?

Here’s the kicker: it’s not just good, it’s damn good wine.

Color is a classic garnet center with ruby/purple edges. The nose offers up bright raspberry, strawberry, flower stalk trimmings, and hewn gravel. In the mouth: young, crisp, and tart raspberry with bold acidity bathes the palate and holds it tight, tannins gripping the tongue and retaining flavors while a series of mineral notes drill across the back palate, predominantly granite and gravel with schist, limestone, and calcite-heavy clay. Refreshing, bright, and energetic, this is like a shot of sunshine arcing though the clouds to warm your face. Gorgeous, classic cru beaujolais. These wines have great potential to age when stored properly, but rarely last in my cellar for obvious reasons. Quel dommage!

This is a wine to seek out for several reasons: 1) if you like Beaujolais nouveau but want to try a cru and up your game; 2) if you are a fan of organic farming and winemaking; 3) if you’re looking for an old-world, old school wine that is fresh, bright and acidic to tear down a savory dish and leave the palate clean and refreshed and ready for more; or 4) if you simply want to taste the beauty of thousand-year old, traditional winemaking with minimal intrusion. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of these wines: a single vineyard pinot noir, a great gamay like this Morgon, a Lagrein, a Nebbiolo, or a Blaufrankish.  In each of these I see the potential for singular perfection, bold acidity, and a mineral backbone- a killer wine to complement a great meal. 
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Try one. You can thank me later.

 

à votre santé!

 

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