Profile: Jean-Claude Lapalu


Jean-Claude Lapalu, 2020Tasted with Jean-Claude Lapalu in Saint-Etienne la Varenne, 20 February 2020.

Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu
Les Quatre Croix,
69460 Saint-Etienne la Varenne
Tel: +33 4 74 03 50 57

Jean-Claude laughs when I ask him if it’s an old family domaine – “No, it’s creation that began almost 25 years ago – 1996.” Jean-Claude and his family had always been close to the vines though, as they had been grape-growers selling to the cooperative. JC was also chef de culture at a domaine here in Saint-Etienne la Varenne which was put up for sale – he bought all the vines that he could, but was losing the buildings – so constructed his new winery here.

Jean-Claude has always considered that sustainable, organic farming is paramount. As such, the domaine has been certified organic since 2010 with Jean-Claude incorporating many biodynamic methods into his work.

Vinification and elevage without are without sulfur, then for some cuvées there is an addition of 10 mg of sulfur before bottling. For some other cuvées there are no additions.

Perhaps I have a hint more export than sales at home in France, but it’s a reasonably balanced sales here.

The wines…

I visited here because I simply loved a 2018 Brouilly VV that was poured in a Beaujolais restaurant – the wine I tasted here reminded me of that wine – I can give better praise – it, and these, are excellent, going on fantastic!

The 2018s are sold out, so we are looking at 2019s, many from tank or barrel, but almost all of these will be bottled this week:

2019 Beaujolais Villages Blanc
Bright, sweet – actually very inviting. Some gas. Nice shape in the mouth with good attack. Mineral in the middle that’s a very good BJVB! “I like to keep the gas sometimes, I don’t have soil for whites so I buy the grapes, and it’s a vintage with modest acidity so this helps keep the balance.

2019 Beaujolais Villages Temptation
Plenty of young vines, maceration in whole-clusters, quite cool, some barrels – assembled in less than 1 month – no added sulfur for this cuvée.
Plenty of colour. A fruity if slightly compact but pure nose. Ultra-fruity flavour, layered, nice energy and purity – plenty of volume in the middle and good intensity in the finish too – a sweet finish with an impression of the stems. That’s very impressive!

2019 Beaujolais Villages Vieilles-Vignes
More old vines, an assembly of 3 cuvées – only tank elevage. Made exactly as the Brouilly VV which follows.
A little extra colour. More width, more floral – really a super nose. Ooh – that’s good – wide, melting with delicious, floral-infused flavour -a modest touch of tannin. Vibrant – great BJV!

2019 Brouilly Vieilles-Vignes
Made just like the BJV.
A similar type of nose but even more vibrant. Deep, concentrated, this has energy and much complexity – you should wait for this a little while – not that it’s not delicious – but drink the previous wine first – excellent wine with a lovely finish..,.

2019 ‘Eau Fort’ VdF
Sampled from barrel. Vines next to the domaine, first vines worked organically – more than 20 years ago – 45-year-old vines – that’s a good age says JC because he doesn’t need to extract – ‘I’m trying to get the finesse but the length at the same time.’
A very floral nose – very perfumed. Bigger, vibrantly fresh, a very open wine, tannic but nicely textured. Very fine red fruit, what a great and intense finish too – wow here – what a great finish.

2019 Côte de Brouilly
From barrel
Plenty of colour plus a faint reduction. A round, deeply fruited dark nose. More drive, but concentrated too. Really a top wine here – it needs a little time – it won’t be bottled before June but it’s a great and concentrated wine of very fine balance.

2019 Brouilly Croix des Rameaux
Not much morning sun but it has the heat of the afternoon – ‘still that’s a later ripening place.’ Made like the last wine and sampled from barrel.
Dark, complex, fresh nose. Gas. Freshness and energy here – more volume less overt concentration – here is a super weight of finishing flavour – long, very long indeed – a great set of wines here.

2019 Brouilly Cuvée de Foux
Vines from 1900, isolated like this since 2000. Barrel elevage.
Lots of colour. A fine, almost silky nose. Fresher a little more drive – inky-deep flavour – ooh, that’s a beautifully concentrated but relaxed impression over the palate. Holding very long. Ripe but not over-ripe. A beauty!

2019 Beaujolais Villages Le Rond du Melle
Later harvested but with a less extractive vinification ‘to balance.’
A more herb and more airy style to this nose – certainly complex, less of overt fruit. Really a concentration here but more mineral and saline – plenty of tannin but ultra-fine, then a great finish – mouth-filling, long, saline – bravo!

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