Tasted in Salles-Arbuissonnas en Beaujolais with Franck Large, 11 February 2021.
Franck on 2020:
“2020 was a good year – quantity and quality – we thought but we lost volume through the dryness, I was worried that the grapes might be cooked like in 2003 – but not a bit of it – very happy! An early harvest, 24 August, and higher degrees but the balance seems super and very fruity. For the whites, the chardonnay suffered a bit more from the dryness and we had to wait a lot longer for the maturity – another 8-10 days later than the red harvest, but managed to find a new harvest team through Facebook!”
Franck on 2019:
“We did have a bit of frost, it was a less easy vintage in the vines than 2020. I find the tannins a bit more present – the red maturity came later in this vintage. The grapes were fine, but not extra-special like the 2020s. I did no destemming in 2018, just a little in 2020 and quite a lot in 2019 as I found it could have been a bit too astringent. In terms of volume, we were down about 30% – like in 2020 – but it was as much the frost as the dryness that was to blame in 2019. I’m working on different plantations of herbs between the vines with the hope of doing less working of the soil – we have very light soils and erosion is a constant problem if you plough.”
As every year, Franck sells out quickly so we mainly tasted 2020s. As always, a good range – that’s why I visit. As good as his 2020s were, I had a slight (stylistic) preference for his 2019 Beaujolais Villages – a little less cordial style to the fruit – today.
All the wines sealed with DIAM now:
2020 Beaujolais Villages Blanc
Schist soil here that is very stony but there’s some clay in the soil too. ‘It’s historically an area that was planted with whites.’ Tank sample.
A width of yellow-fruit and minerals. Nice energy and just a little sourness from the acidity – but in an interesting way. The finish is rather concentrated, wide, mineral but not too much in the way of rigour to the minerality.
2020 Beaujolais Villages Rosé
Pale salmon pink colour. A freshness of aroma again, once-more with an accent of minerality. Gas. Driving with energy – a sense of similar acidity to the last. Slow-moving waves of finishing flavour – a similar wine to the first but with all the sharp edges removed. Tasty wine.
2020 Beaujolais Villages Salles-Arbuissonnas
Mid-March bottling is planned – so another month… the final cuvée is 14° – some bins were over 15°…
Wow – now there’s some colour. A nose that opens and shows more and more clarity with aeration – a cassis-style to the fruit. Ooh, that’s attractive – there’s a very faint gas – but here is such a mouth-filling wine, great fruit and energy combined. The flavour clinging to the palate in the finish, long. I see more elevage needed here but I think this will be excellent.
2019 Beaujolais Villages Blanc
‘We had good maturity in the whites in 2019 – 10-12-year-old vines.’
A tighter nose, yet there’s depth of flavour here too. Mouth-filling, concentrated, a slightly exotic fruit, growing in in tensity and minerality – the acidity is there and the wine is mouth-watering with flavour. A touch of finishing rigour but this is another that holds its flavour very long.
2019 Beaujolais Villages Salles-Arbuissonnas
A good colour but certainly less intense than the 2020 – ‘We had to find a compromise between harvesting ripe and not too ripe – it’s always a little complicated if you’ve had frost or hail…’
A more compact nose, easy fruit, growing in width with aeration. Mouth-filling, plenty of freshness – the acidity growing – but not too much. An easier, more open style than the 2020 – still a proper, mineral, graphite, finish. More for early drinking than the 2020 but also for waiting a year-or-so. I like this.