Tasted in Vaux en Beaujolais with David Large, 12 February 2019.
Domaine David Large
Tel: +33 4 74 67 30 95
I tasted with David at his house with a fabulous view of his vineyards – vines in this locale mainly with an altitude of 400-500 metres – and the view of the plain of the Saone to the east – though not the Alps on the day that I visited!
David initially joined his parents in 2004 – they had a long-established domaine in the area. “I was 16 and stayed a few years but then decided to work a while in the Rhône, working with Guigal and Chapoutier, amongst others, working the hills in bio and biodynamics. Eventually I decided to return to Beaujolais – perhaps with a bit more maturity – but no experience in any of the facets outside of the vines. It wasn’t possible to expand the vines at the start but I had some purchases that helped to keep everything running with a decent volume. I’m now commercialising about 5 hectares as vigneron, doing all the work, in a mix of crus and Beaujolais Villages.”
David on 2018:
“2018 had a complicated start to the year – there were days I take the truck to Moulin à Vent, treat the vines, head home, then it rained heavily, so back in the afternoon to treat again – it was character forming! My vines were hit by the hail in Beaujolais near Denicé – some big impacts to the wood of the vines too – I made a couple of treatments and left it to dry. In the end it was a better harvest volume than in 2017, indeed better than I expected – 35 hl/ha – I’m happy with that. The parcel in Moulin à Vent has a very light soil over black rock, it’s quite high in altitude – it wasn’t hit by the hail, but only 25 hl/ha was produced.”
David on 2017:
“It’s vintage that resembles 2015 to me. Some frost early in the season and then a dryness after, so not a big harvest volume. ”
I asked David about the main markets for his wine, and it’s a familiar story for young domaines “It’s taken some time for the locals to notice me, but the export is running well. After they listen to what I do and taste my wines there’s a certain respect and they never questioned the tariff for my wines. It’s more common in France to ask for a certain price – if that’s accepted, only then will they come and taste!”
And the winemaking? “Since 2014, I’ve been using more barrels and also oval tanks/eggs for elevage – the grapes are not destemmed, semi-carbo fermentations – all the wines keep their stems. I make wine like my grandfather, with very little sulfur.”
Bottled character here! Bravo!
2018 The Toxic Gamay’nger
VDF (The toxic avenger) – but with an AB label. ‘I liked the name – it’s a cinematic reference, but if I had left ‘Beaujolais’ on the label I might have been accused of being provocative for putting the two together, so I chose not to! For me it breaks all the clichés. Even a couple of (foreign) restaurants with Michelin stars have put it on their lists!’
Relatively modest colour. Open, easy, a mineral touch. A little gas, wide – fresh – tasty wine with a mineral kick for a hint of rigour. Tasty wine – wait 6-12 months and it will be even better.
2018 Massaï – Beaujolais Nouveau
Pure carbonic – small, almost black grapes.
Deep, almost a little meaty. Big in the mouth – lots of volume, a base of tannic texture, silky in the middle. Long – full-flavoured tasty wine, again.
2018 Nelson VDF
Named after David’s cat, in a Bordeaux-shape bottle. The parcel of vines next to those used for the ‘toxic.’
A little narrower nose but deep and fresher. Full – but with energy and lots of fun in the mouth – not just fun – there’s a real depth of flavour here. Narrow but lovely finishing line of flavour. Super wine.
2018 Beaujolais Gamayhameha
Vines in the area of Pierre Dorée.
Redder fruit on the nose – wider, a touch of something attractively volatile – but subtly so. More direct, more tannic, more for the patient – that means 6-12 months (at least) in this case. Vibrant flavour that clings to the palate. Serious but also fun. Excellent!
2018 Côte de Brouilly
Climat – Côte de Brouilly! Part oval tank elevage. Not yet bottled. In conversion to AB here.
Ooh – a real cordial style of fruit – very inviting. Plenty of gas still – this is a tank sample. Great fruit – a wine of freshness and clarity – and did I mention the great fruit? Concentration sacrificed for absolute fresh deliciousness – I expect a bravo wine!
2018 Moulin à Vent Roche Noir
A bigger ‘egg’ of 15 hl after a cement fermentation.
A deeper nose – more contemplative despite obvious freshness. Some gas again. Here a suggestion of reduction in the flavour – but very light. Dry from the tannin but no grain – the dryness accentuated by the gas – fresh, bright, nicely intense finishing fruit. A little more depth that the CdBrouilly, but I prefer the extra excitement of that wine today.
Old gamay, volcanic rock, some sand, like the Nelson with small black grapes. David’s grandfather and father always vinified these apart, steep here. Very little sulfur. The 2018 is, naturally, still in tank.
Ooh – that’s a deep colour. Deep, dark, concentrated nose, accented with a mineral aroma – almost spicy. Ooh – that’s full, concentrated but super fresh. Supple, with great depth of flavour. Indeed a great wine here, and very much a baby wine too. Bravo!
The négoce wines. ‘I have a more rustic style with the négoce wines:’
2018 Patate de Forain VDF
Beaujolais Villages vines – the grapes bought like this – organic since 2013 here. Only a short contact with the skin so more rosé colour. Plan to bottle in April – assuming it’s ready!
A deep nose, red, accented like a petillant. Yes plenty of gas here, intense, layered intensity. This is a big style-change but it’s also a lovely wine for the summer I think.
2018 Beaujolais, Piranha
‘Next the most bizarre’ – south of Beaujolais, also in conversion to Bio. Sugars needed a long time to finish – they are not long done – so David carafe’d this tank sample.
A big, deep nose – round, licorice – it’s a good invitation. Nice volume of fresh flavour in the mouth. Lovely dimensions of flavour too. A slightly ‘nature’ style to the flavours, but clean, correct and concentrated with plenty of freshness – bravo I expect!
2016 Brouilly ‘Ca’
Not hard to find grapes to buy, but it’s hard to find a fermage here. This is more of a ‘selection’ as it was bought as unfinished wine – but to start the relationship with the grower. Only cement elevage here.
A round nose of fine, clean fruit – another wine with a fine invitation to drink. Supple, wide, lovely dimensions of flavour to the fruit here – deeply finishing, layered wine. This is excellent.
2017 Côte de Brouilly ‘Heartbreaker’
Did the fermentations here – semi-carbonic of-course. Vines at the bottom of the slope. No sulfur until 1g added at bottling time.
Fresh and deep at the same time – dark-fruited. Open, fresh like the nose – quite a volume in the mouth – supple, with subtle framing of dry tannin – always subtle. Layers of finishing flavour and lovely dimension. Fine intensity too – this is excellent, tasty wine. Almost a floral freshness in the finish – yes, excellent!
‘The ‘silverback.’ I don’t have a tank adapted for white – I chose to protect it by bottling it! So it’s special and it’s ‘troubled’ (cloudy)! I first started with the name of a racehorse for this cuvée – but then it was hailed so there were very few bottles. Then the horse died so they asked for all the bottles for a wake for the horse! I decided to change the name after that – the gorilla is still well!’
Wide, plenty of aromatic volume – almost waxy, honied and faintly floral – acacia flower – ut has a fine nose. A nice construction in the mouth – a structural wine that’s nicely defined. A wine that grows wider and wider on the palate – ooh that’s a special style but great wine with no overt rigour or harshness. Bravo. There I said it a great BJ Blanc – probably for drinking now but who knows!