Tasted in Romanèche-Thorins with Adrien & Georges Duboeuf, plus oenelogue Guy Marion who has worked together with Georges since 1976, 06 February 2017.
Vins Georges Duboeuf
208 rue de Lancié
Tel: +33 3 85 35 34 20
Well, what to say about Georges Duboeuf?
I decided that I was never going to know enough about Beaujolais if I didn’t pay them a visit! The Duboeuf family actually hail from the Mâconnais (as far back as the 17th century and still keep strong links – in their product-line too. Of-course I could spend time on the history of this producer, but I decided it would be much more relevant to concentrate on what Duboeuf do ‘today.’
About 23 million bottles are produced by Duboeuf annually, of-which close to 16 million bottles are Beaujolais Nouveau. Supporting those numbers are 400 vigneron suppliers, multiple cave cooperatives, plus the more modest volume of domaine wines.
I visited their cuverie on the outskirts of Romanèche-Thorins – it’s a big place, and it’s been here since the 2002 vintage – it looks relatively modern from the outside, except that its red paint has been dated by the sun. About 20,000 hectolitres of wine is produced here each year – so less than 3 million bottles – but Duboeuf are working directly with many vinificateurs so not all their wine is made here: Their Maison and their Domaine wines are kept completely separate. In this facility they produce mainly Beaujolais Villages (50%), Morgon and Moulin à Vent are their biggest crus, and 8-10,000 hectolitres of crus are made here each year. Mâcon and even a little Côte du Rhône can be seen on the tank labels too.
Adrien explained to me how they work with partner growers: “We visit the producers a couple of times a year during the growing season, to check their sanitary conditions and potential yields, then nearer the harvest time to control maturity and set a harvesting date. Each parcel is vinified separately, by the name of the producer – though in 2016, after the hail in the crus, some parcels had to be blended as the yields were small.
“All the grapes go over triage tables, that’s 80-120 tonnes of grapes per day. The first triage, at the vines, is the responsibility of the producer. The amount we subsequently have to triage and the potential degree is part of remuneration calculation. It is possible that deliveries could be rejected, but based on our previous visits, that’s very rare. 2016 was, on average, a 2-3% level of triage. In this facility there are 50 tanks of 9-15 tonnes (of grapes) capacity. We have a number of wooden tanks too, also thermo-regulated, I think that extractions can be even better with wood.
“Fermentations are with whole clusters, a quick 4-6 days maceration, though longer for the vins de garde, sometimes with a little destemming and prolonging of maceration in Fleurie or Moulin à Vent for example. There could be as much as 2/3rds destemming – mille-feuille layering of stems and destemmed fruit can be very interesting. Our macerations are semi-carbonic. In 2016 we did a little less extraction.
“We have two families of crus; Brouilly, Régnié and some Fleurie with 8-12 days of maceration, and others that could be longer, but the tastings will decide each year – Moulin à Vent or Morgon might be longer for instance. A certain percentage of our crus also see elevage in barrel – more or less, depending on the vintage, for 12 months in a mix of 2, 3 and 4 year-old barrels, very few are new. We use a large range of coopers – the cellar here holds about 600 barrels. Some vignerons who we know well might even deliver finished wine in barrel. Currently we’re also running some small-scale tests with 400 and 500 litre barrels.”
Adrien on 2016:
“2016s will be better for the whites. In this vintage the south of the Côte de Brouilly saw some of the most precocious vines in the whole of Beaujolais. ”
Adrien on 2015:
“It’s an extraordinary millesime. Fabulous maturity, super cleanliness of grapes, though the quantity is not the highest – you have to go back a long time to fine such a powerful but generous and elegant vintage. The biggest problem is that people want to start drinking the wines already, and we don’t even want to bottle some until April or May – maybe even longer. We had some cuvées in 2009 where we also waited 2 years to bottle. 2009 has some similarities to 2015, though perhaps had a little less acidity than 2015.”
My tasting was in the ‘laboratory’ tasting room. I was a little surprised – not by the quantity of wines to taste, but rather that al the wines were just a little warmer than ideal for tasting – only by a little, but it was distracting. Some screw-caps are used for négoce wines, but otherwise, cork – two of these were corked.
The wines here were as a minimum ‘correct’ and largely they were very good – as they should be in 2015 – there can be no complaints in this respect. Rather I feel very sorry for the other domaines when I see how low the prices are here. It is simply not possible do a good work in the vines, by hand, and craft a quality product for the average market price, and that market price is largely set by Georges Duboeuf.
Nose starts very tight. Supple, nicely textured, a growing depth of flavour. This is really tasty wine indeed. A great start!
2015 Beaujolais Villages
The biggest volume wine of Dubeouf. ‘In 2015 we had 40-50 hl/ha in general, a modest rendement, but very good maturity.’
A little more open and floral. Fresher, a hint more tannin. Slowly fading. Easy and tasty wine.
A little more depth of aroma – a hint of bubble-gum. Rounder, a fresh floral component and a more intense mid-palate – a nice line of flavour widening in the finish – lovely.
The highest altitude vines – 400+ metres.
A deeper, weightier nose, rounder and fuller. Slowly growing waves of flavour. This flavour olds very well, sumptuous, maybe a lick more freshness? But the wines are warm…
A deep nose, more overtly red fruited. Good volume in the mouth, I like the fruit very much – super tasting, a nice energy – a wine full of excellent flavour!
2015 Brouily Pisse Vieille
There are two vignerons behind this label, vines in the direction of Morgon
A hint of salinity, and complexity – faintly floral. Fresh, supple more direct, and a growing intensity – less easy, more interesting than the last – this certainly needs a little more time but this is really an interesting and tasty mouthful. Super finish and long, a hint more tannin.
2015 Côte de Brouilly
A nose with more attractive purity – dark fruits. Saline again, deep, fresh growing mouth-watering flavour. Wide and really persistent – super! And this has the best nose so far…
Open and fresh yet a little tighter in the bass notes. Wide, lithe and intense, a growing weight. A fresh slightly floral wine – lots of flavour complexity. A very young but really very tasty wine!
2015 Domaine Jean Ernest Descombes, Morgon
6 different climats, bottled at the property.
A deep nose, faintly highlighted with flowers. Fresh, cool fruit, growing intensity, again a floral fruit in the mid-palate. More intensity and complexity in the finish. This is super!
A narrow line of interesting aromatic flavour. Good volume but no fat, more tannin but a lovely floral fruit, I could drink this today. But it will clearly be better in a year of two…
Also bottled at the property. This mainly from vines at the bottom and south of the appellation.
More open nose. Big in the mouth, caressing, layered, growing intensity – bravo – grand vin. Almost chocolatey… super long, long!
A big nose, here with a hint of chocolate, but with charm. Wide, really good volume, a growing intensity of flavour, really wide – ooh I like this, faintly saline, really good finishing width and persistence. Super! Much less texture but I’m loving its clarity!
A touch less colour. A wide and nicely red fruited nose that slowly adds flowers too. Wide, good energy and growing intensity – very different again. These last three wines together would make a great introduction to Beaujolais. Floral, tannin inflected finishing notes. Yum!
2015 Chàteau des Capitans, Juliénas
Nere with some oak elevage.
Ooh a what a nose – clarity, dark fruit and in one word, excitement! A mouth filler, but no fat, really a great and growing intensity of flavour with a little floral addition and just a little barrel vanilla – the latter is on a low-level so I expect it to be gone in 12-24 months. Simply a great wine – the volume of the 4 Vents, without the extra texture. Great finish.
2015 Saint Amour
A faint floral, and an implied weight of fruit. A very floral fruit in the mouth, with super-fine tannin, and a fine width of flavour – simply delicious!
2015 Moulin à Vent
Deeper colour. A dark, concentrated if tight depth of fruit. Mouth-filling – great texture super concentration a how can anyone not like? A wide and persistent finish, super!
30% barrel elevage. This not bottled.
Ooh, this is deep – a little reduction at play – also in the flavour, but there are many, many layers of flavour. I’d like to see this finished, but the oak is modest and there is power and fine balance – this could be very special. Faintly saline finishing…
2009 Jean Ernest Descombes, Morgon
Wide, complex, floral and a hint spicy – more interesting than the young 2015! A wide shape and a growing volume, mouth-watering intensity, faintly floral, still. Delicious and even still a little young!
That’s a rather complex and floral nose with a mineral impression too. Big volume, good freshness, lots of complex fun on the palate – a group of friends would demolish this very quickly!
2009 Chàteau de Capitains, Juliénas
More comparable to the last wine than the one before, but more together, almost younger – a very impressive nose. Fresh, complex, lots of energy – a baby. Super wine!
2009 Moulin à Vent
More floral and wide, more simple after the last – or maybe ‘easier‘ is a better word. Wide, a super freshness, really nice intensity and a super mouth-watering sweet flavour – almost a Chablis-style acidity. Still a point of barrel in the finish but not obviously vanilla…
2009 Domaine des Rosiers, Moulin à Vent
Wide and fresh – otherwise a little tight. Plenty of presence in the mouth – a growing volume and a growing flavour too – this starts modest and becomes delicious. Here the first with that slightly oxidised/marsala finishing note – but very attractively so – yum!
2009 Fleurie Cuvée Presitige
Old vines, elevage in barrel for 1-2 years, low yields.
A modest nose, with faint herb. In the mouth, this has weight and width, a certain easy complexity, yet nothing that sets my pulse racing…
2009 Juliénas Cuvée Presitige
A modest nose again, with a core that still shows. Modest vanilla – I wouldn’t want to have drunk this young! In the mouth this is a delight though – still some tannin and a really great energy – but still too much vanilla! Shame!
2009 Moulin à Vent Cuvée Prestige
Deeper colour. Wide, complex, tobacco, vanilla… reminds of syrah! Wow, this is full of tannin, floral fruit, mouth-puckering. Really far too young today but there is potential!