Tasted with Thibault in Chénas, 13 February 2017.
Domaine des Pierres Roses
Lieu-dit Les Maisons Neuves
Tel: +33 6 21 01 20 90
In 1930s the Liger-Belairs had a domaine with MAV and Fleurie and there’s still a domaine today, with a cousin…
This domaine began life in 2008 and today covers about 45% of Thibault’s combined exploitations in the Beaujolais and Côte d’Or. The wines currently have elevage in Nuits St.Georges (where Thibault is also constructing a new cuverie there) but there will be some redevelopment of the domaine buildings in Chénas to allow elevage. Although the domaine buildings here are officially in Chénas, all the domaine’s vines are located in Moulin à Vent. Just a road between the vines can make a big difference – as Thibault found out when he refused to spray some insecticide on his vines and was taken to court. For Thibault it was not the principle about spraying – per-se – rather it was because his vines straddled the border between the departments of the Rhône and the Saone et Loire – on one side of the road he was mandated to spray his Moulin à Vent vines three times with insecticide, but 3 metres away on the other side of the road he didn’t have to make any sprays on his Moulin à Vent – “If the infected insects were really here, do you think they would not cross the road?”
Thibault explains some of the differences experienced by the vines here versus in the Côte d’Or: “Here we have really super-abrasive sandy soil – it wears out the plough! Because the granite has no fissures the roots end up going sideways, not down, like in Côte d’Or.
“Because the soil is so sandy, I will try some ‘provignage‘ in the oldest vines and see how these new plants grow. These old vines currently bring 15hl/ha, but what a 15!”
These ‘oldest vines’ are dated somewhere between 1870 and 1880. When Thibault bought his vines in 2009, the octogenarian vigneron didn’t show him the vines as he thought them ‘too old’ – when Thibault asked ‘how old’ the answer was ‘I don’t know, but when I was young, they were already old!’
In 2016 they didn’t harvest 6 hectares due to the hail – 30% of the corns* were killed by the hail.
*The corns are the ‘fists’ at the end of the branches of traditional ‘goblet’ gamay vines.
All the 2015s were barrel samples, brought down from Nuits where the barrels lay – “The cellar is only about 7 degrees in Nuits at the moment so there could be some gas and they were harvested relatively late” said Thibault. The 2014s were only bottled in July and August 2016. Only 18-20 hl/ha was the yield in 2015.
There are four lieu-dits that are bottled, plus two blends – the Cuvées Vieilles-Vignes and the Cuvée Centenaire…
2015 Moulin à Vent Rouchaux
About 30% whole clusters – two teams harvesting in the same day – the first team taking the best clusters which were not destemmed. Only 2 or 3 pigeages in 1 month of cuvaison. ‘This is the most supple of my wines in 2015.’
Wide, really deep, dark, verging on meaty fruit. Lots of volume but good freshness and really lots of energy. The impression of sweetness in the finish but a mineral line too.
Most important cuvée because it represents 7 hectares of 65-105 year-old vines.
A deep wine, almost an inky depth of aroma – tighter above. Ooh, massive volume – fresh and hyper intense with a slowly growing wave of tannin but it’s an anecdote of texture without grain. Layers, indeed waves of finishing flavour. There’s a coating of flavour in the mouth, it’s really something special!
2015 Moulin à Vent Champs Cours
Like a ‘cone de dejection’ here with more eroded material – still sandy but more stones and much less rose-coloured. This the first vintage for this wine, with about 20% new oak. 40% whole cluster. ‘More velour than the other wines – I think of Chambolle-Musigny – elegant but with some rigour in the structure. Biologique from start, biodynamic from 2 years, to build up.’
Another very deep nose, there is a suggestion of toast and faint spice. A faint gas, but there’s a rather wonderful texture again with a growing tannin, here with a hint of dryness but no grain. Really very spicy and ingraining flavour.
‘La Roche’ for a reason – ‘The highest vines of the domaine, here there’s only 3cm of sandy soil, then we hit the rock – here we’re just 100m from the windmill, normally here with plenty of wind.’ About 20% new oak for this wine, 30% whole-cluster.
A more floral top-line to this wine with a similar bass and weight of bass in the aromas. More direct, more freshness, really intense, flavour that ingrains. The finish, despite a hint of tannic dryness, is simply great – bravo!
Slightly different vinification, 50% destemmed by hand. 3 barrels. All to be bottled in magnum. ‘The wine is in a different universe to the other wines’
Not the largest volume of aroma – good width, a layered impression of red, faintly spiced fruit with almost a suggestion of balsamic. Hmm, very different in the mouth – line and vivid complexity, the tannin seems to be just part of the whole to start with – slowly taking its place at the base of the flavour. Just another incredibly wide and persistent finishing flavour – great wine!
2015 Moulin à Vent Perrelles
13k vines per hectare, plain south-facing – the soil is ‘blond’ in the summer and reflects the light back to the vines and grapes – it’s not deep soil. Possibly 2 or more years in barrel for this wine – call it experimental. Of-course the longer Thibault waits the lower the alcohol will be… there are a few grams of sugar still in this one too…
This has a tighter nose, showing a little oak toast – but hardly excessively so. A little gas. Wide, fresh, and with intensity, the tannin slowly starting to show itself. Again with really a tenacious finish.
“I think the energy more important in the 2014s compared to the 2015s – there’s a certain acidulated red fruit. 2014 had between 20-40% whole clusters in the vintage. There’s much less lignin in the stems of gamay it’s very different to pinot noir, there’s more harmony when you bite gamay and its stem together…”
2014 Moulin à Vent Rouchaux
Bottled in July…
A little depth of oak toast. Wide and fresh, a little barrel in the flavour, but not harsh – the palate has a little tannin texture and a melting impression to the flavour. A fine mouth-watering finish and here with a some joyous flavour to counter faint tannin. Very yum! Just a wonderful finishing line.
The nose is, for my palate, mainly about oak toast, though very slowly there is a style of floral/caramel that comes through. Hmm – just a little less barrel flavour and more, mouth-watering, über-tasty flavour. Really these are babies, but all things considered they are really delicious. Wait until 5 years old – at least – just super wine.
The first vintage for this wine, the word for perrières in Beaujolais, previously it was in the vv – but from this vintage TLB saw something worth capturing in an individual cuvée.
Here the nose has very much less oak – it’s perhaps a little tighter too, but there’s a slowly developing floral aspect. Silkier, beautiful across the palate, sweetness of fruit, really great finishing flavour too – bravo – harmony is the word that comes to mind.
A very subtle reduction, almost a note of spice – slowly adding floral notes. Different in the mouth, more fresh, direct and intense, less about texture, then slowly growing waves of flavour arrive in the mid-palate. Great finishing again. Bravo once more!