Tasted in Fleurie with Alexandra de Vazeilles, 04 February 2021.
Château des Bachelards
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Shock news: Alexandra has doffed her cap to Fleurie, indeed Beaujolais, convention – from the 2018 vintage her bottles will change to the more traditional shape. At the same time, there’s a move to cork from her previously trusty(?) DIAM seals.
For the shape of the bottles I have no strong opinion – the wines were excellent or great in the old shape – so I’m not anticipating any changes. For her new labels – I do prefer the new, and they will change a little each year. As to the change in seals I’m less positive. For me the choice of DIAM is a very important factor for buying white wine that will remain serviceable for years to come – it is a less critical factor for reds – but once you have become accustomed to using DIAMs, why throw away zero-cork-taint? NDTech corks (theoretically) have no TCA, but that’s not the only taint from a cork.
I know that some of my colleagues will give you different answers, but that’s how I see it…
There is less ‘cosmetic’ new at the domaine too: They also bought another hectare of vines that were previously a part of the château holdings. “I’m reconstructing Bachelards!” exclaimed Alexandra. “We have been Demeter certified since 2015 but are now Biodyvin too – the first in Beaujolais. We have been lucky not to suffer from hydric stress in the last vintages, I’m sure that biodynamics have helped the vines reach the water that they need. The domaine’s Les Clos is now a monopole and all the parcels in Fleurie are now worked by horse.”
Alexandra on 2018:
“In the 1970s the average start-date for the harvest in Fleurie was 05 October. The average of the last 10 years is 15 September – the number of days between flowering and picking haven’t actually changed, but the flowering is earlier. We had a cold winter but the weather warmed quickly and April was summer-like with temperatures of 30°C and the vines were growing very quickly. We did have a strong pressure from mildew though. Dry in the summer but still wines that I think have a finesse”
Excellent wine or ‘grand vin’ in 2018 – just like in 2017 – it’s your choice – but for best results, the waiting time will be longer as there is much to unfurl from these 2018s!
As every year, Alexandra prefers a longer elevage, and not to show wines before they are bottled – so we tasted her 2018s:
2018 Petite Fleur IGP
Usually a blend of the Fleurie and Lancié vines.
Really lots of colour. There’s a depth of concentration but all the traces of aroma are fresh and fine. Mouth-filling, concentrated wine – of complexity but quite tightly wound flavours. The texture accented by a grainless tannin. Large-scaled wine that will require some time to open – but there’s balance and much complexity here…
Here is black granite, limestone and schist. The granite here is similar to that in Moulin à Vent. ‘I think this wine is really benefitting from getting the life back into the soils. I bought 0.26 ha of new vines in 2018, the life is slowly returning to those soils!
Again a profound colour. Also a concentrated nose but here there’s an overlay of more airy accessibility. Concentrated but more openly fresh and mobile flavour. Lots of grainless tannin once more, but here with just a small twist of additional freshness that carries the wine more attractively today. Longer but a more subtle concentration of flavour – a long diminuendo…
Deeply coloured. Again a nose of concentration with an airy width of higher tones – a little more spice-accented complexity in this case. Ooh, that’s a beautiful combination of more direct style, freshness and texture. Very mouth-watering in the finish. The first wine that openly showing what it can deliver, and it’s clearly a great wine – bravo!
Deeply coloured. The nose here has a little more overt higher tones – it’s more floral – still rather timid though. In the mouth the freshness and cooler fruit of the Petite Fleur but with a little more emphasis on the structural finesse. Despite that, the tannin more visible, faintly drying but still without overt grain. All these wines are for keeping, but I’d probably wait at least 2-3 years before returning to this – deliciously flavoured as it is.
Probably the most open nose of all – a depth of fruit to fall into but also a more open and higher-toned impression. More complex in the mouth – all that the last wine showed but with additional fine herbs and a mouth-watering intensity that’s wrapped with similar tannins to the last wine. Again for keeping but the finish is more open, more lucid and the most complex here. Great wine but probably not for drinking before 2025…