Tasted in Denicé with Denis Chilliet, 18 May 2016.
Château de Buffavent
855, route de Buffavent
Tel: +33 9 52 78 50 50
Here, set in the vines of Beaujolais’ vigne d’Orée, is a little paradise. Just handful of minutes from the administrative centre of Villefranche you enter another world.
“The buildings and parts of the house are certainly 19th century, says Denis Chilliet, but some parts look older – it’s hard to say. The house and domaine have been in the family since the great grand-parents, but they stayed in Lyon and a manager was installed for the domaine. Denis bought the domaine with his brother-in-law, who is an artist. Denis had previously worked at another producer in the area – beginning here in 2009. He planted 3 hectares of vines that year, including gamaret, pinot, viognier and chardonnay – there are 22 hectares of vines now. The old but part-renovated house also has three chambres d’hôte – It looks a highly attractive proposition for a long weekend – the house also enjoys fine views of the alps – “But that usually means that it will rain” says Denis!
Back to the domaine – Denis is working ever-more to reduce the amount of herbicide he sprays – “never easy with goblet pruning.” For this year they have new pneumatic press, “next year there will always a new project…”
This domaine is all Beaujolais, not Beaujolais villages, and about 14,000 bottles are commercialised by the property, the rest is sold in bulk to Dubeouf – actually the domaine has sold to Dubeouf for generations.
Mainly the old vine cuvées are commercialised here – with 12 months in barrel and full malos. Denis mentions that he had a parcel of vines planted by the prisoners of the 1914 war, but eventually pulled them out due to their poor yields. Old vines here are ‘really 40-50 year old.‘
“Our pricing is €5.50 Beaujolais, there’s also a Côteaux Bourguignone for €9 – but that’s all pinot. There is a small cuvée for €14 which has everything. We sell the blanc for the same price as the red, not less I consider it the 11th cru of Beaujolais – Viognier Vin de France also sells well from here…”
Some old vines had frost this year. Denis notes “My idea is to have 2-3 years of wines in the cellar, but in practice the 2014s have really sold well – there is not so much left!”
Both of the first two wines go in tank first, with remontage for the Beaujolais and with a grill and occasional pigeage for the VV. Then the VV goes into barrel. The (added) yeasts are different – one for fruit one for extraction, but both with a ‘Beaujolais base.’
The domaine’s ‘classic cuvée’
Medium, medium-plus colour. A modest but open nose with some freshness and a pretty red fruit, but not so effusive today. Wide, easy, a hint of savoury flavour. Growing flavour in the finish – really a fine finish after a modest, easy entry.
2014 Beaujolais Vieilles-Vignes
A more vibrant nose, fine fruit over a base of woody vanilla. Lots of energy, a fine line too – with vanilla of-course, but I love the energy and almost the impression of minerality that this wine delivers – super, but wait two years!
2013 Beaujolais Vieilles-Vignes
A more guarded nose but with flashes of dark and fresh fruit, again with an underpinning of barrel. Lovely over the palate, growing and filling the mouth, here with a little too much oak for me – still – but nice waves of finishing flavour. A little tight, I would say that it needs a little more time – it’s a little less generous than the 14 today.
2010 Beaujolais Vieilles-Vignes
Here is dark fruit and freshness – no obvious barrel notes here. Bright, energetic lots of flavour complexity – yes still some barrel flavour but really on a much lower level. Fresh, vivant, tasty wine – yum!
2014 Beaujolais Blanc
Fermentation in tank and then barrel elevage with bottling about the following August
A wide yet modest nose, faintly textured, faintly oaked. Fresh, fine acidity, good energy on the plate, this is actually quite good – a nice saline accent to the finishing flavours. It’s clearly not a wine of the Côte de Beaune, but it’s not in the savoury Beaujolais vernacular either. Well made and tasty.
2012 Beaujolais Blanc
Hail at the end of June, there was a blocking of maturity so harvested a little later by machine which actually seemed to do a very good job of triage, mainly removing the dry material.
A little deeper colour. a deeper, more aromatic nose too – quite nice! Wide, mouth-filling really a more obvious line and intensity here a perhaps a little more oak augmentation too. Overall I’m preferring the 2014… But this is really more intense and indeed intense finishing too…
2011 Beaujolais Blanc
A very attractive nose with a hint of reduction. Fresh, lovely dimensions of flavour, a little herby mid-palate, saline, complex. Still quite a wide and concentrated wine – fresh as a baby. Very tasty! And I don’t often say that about Beaujolais blanc!