Tasted with Fabien Duperray in La Chapelle de Guinchay, 23 May 2017.
Domaine Jules Desjourneys
75 rue Jean Thorin
71570 La Chapelle de Guinchay
Tel: +33 3 85 33 85 88
Fabien, who is in his early-50s, is rather camera-shy, but it’s the only part of this interesting man to which I would ascribe any shyness. This was a special visit, and the only real comparison I can make to the hundreds of other producer visits I’ve made over the last years, would be that of Henry-Frédéric Roch way back in 2006. Like Henry-Frédéric, I have the impression that Fabien first assess his visitor, before deciding whether they are worth his time or not – if the latter, then it seems that time is an elastic concept – fortunately I had no other visits planned for the day!
Fabien’s 7 hectare estate is producing, to exacting standards, wines from the Beaujolais and Mâconnais. His approach and standards require that the bottles are priced beyond the norms of these appellations – though they are hardly expensive in the context of Côte d’Or pricing. He explains “Of-course it is hard to take a path such as this, as the négoce are strong – they sell 80% of all the wine from here, and they don’t want to see much change – but I am strong too, and I work with passion!”
Fabien started working with wine at a young age, assessing cellars to buy. He also worked making whites in Alsace before also working with vignerons such as Arnaud Ente of Meursault and Jean-Yves Bizot of Vosne. For at least 25 years, Fabien has been a distributor of virtually all the iconic domains of Burgundy – if the well-known auction houses of this world really knew their sources, they would be beating a path to this man’s door. This is exactly the answer to the (at first) puzzling question – why does his domain take a different name? “It’s because I represent lots of important domaines that I prefer the discretion, and I also think that my part in these bottles is small – I accompany nature but nature is why we’re here, plus we are a team too. I’m the guardian simply from the sense that I look after the things. Jules is for Jules Chauvet, Desjourneys added well. People come and ask to see Jules – and I like that!”
Reds – in 2007 the opportunity came up to acquire some parcels of old vines in Fleurie and Moulin‐a‐Vent. Whites – “That’s another adventure.” 2014 was the first vintage, with Fabien associating himself with Christophe Thibert, but he said “I’ll only do whites if I can choose exactly the wines that I want to do!” Today there are 7 different reds from the Beaujolais Crus and 5 whites from the Mâconnais. For the reds there’s no destemming – save for what might occur during rigorous triage – then there’s no pigeage here, just ‘very soft’ remontage; “The first days define the aromas and afterwards the definition of the structure comes during fermentation – gamay is like cabernet, there is such a diversity of expression because all the different types of fermentations that are possible.” Elevage can last anywhere between two and three years.
The labelling is organic, but the work here is biodynamic. “It’s about the aesthetic of the wine, not the yields – that’s what I work for. Biodynamics is really the viticulture of the rich – if you’ve no money, how do you do biodynamie? My corks cost 2 euros a time and the wax is not just for the aesthetic, it’s also protective – these are obviously not industrial bottles. My quest is to make the most stable wine whilst, at the same time, preserving the most life in those bottles…”
Asia and the US are the main markets for these wines, though 37 countries are currently served. “I’m just starting to work in the UK too, but I don’t really want to work with a major – How do you work with a monster? – So I like to start with someone young and small; I’m an artisan.”
In a world of good, sometimes great producers, there are also the ‘special’ producers – and here is a producer worthy of that positioning. You would not see more attention to wine-making detail at Leroy – or lower yields. Despite how good the reds are here, and the extra experience that Fabien Duperray has with these plots, during my visit the whites sung even louder. Of-course the prices are expensive compared to others with the same appellations, but 30-70 Euros seems modest for such truly fine wines.
First we had a tour of some 16s in tank. None of these 16s had seen sulfur yet – indeed the 15s have only just had their first racking. Fabien is planning August to start bottling his 2015s – so two years of elevage. First was the 2016 Chenas SYL, named as it’s the domaine’s only (red) wine that is on clay, and Fabien’s not this vineyard’s biggest fan as ‘there are always big grapes here, but with biodynamics the grapes have shrunk, so I’m no-longer giving it away to my neighbours!‘ Fabien is clear in his appreciation of 2016 though ‘2016 is not a small vintage!‘
Then came the Chenas with a deep colour and some reduction – I note 21 hl/ha but Fabien corrects me – ‘No there is just 21 hectolitres of wine – which works out to be only 10 hectolitres per hectare!‘ There is both weight and already a beautiful texture. Long, a beauty in the making. ‘It’s hard to harvest this parcel’ says Fabien, ‘as the grapes go from almost ripe directly to almost rotten.‘ Then yet another Chenas, which Fabien refers to as the JD or rather the Judgement Dernier, referring to the last judgement – vines on pure granite, with no destemming, no thermo vinification. It’s a hint less reduced, bright, mineral, long and very different. Ooh this is sooo good!
Moving on to the 2016 Morgon, usually produced from 1ha of vines, but the plot of Corcelettes was hailed, so it’s 70% from Micault in this vintage. The nose has a salty reduction. Hmm, juicy wine, of layers and energy. Super long – I love it! It starts an athlete and becomes the most tender! Then comes the 2016 Moulin à Vent which is also a very small cuvée due to the hail – a combination of lieu-dits. There’s less reduction, more complexity, it’s a little floral too – ooh this is good. Super line, very fine texture with a modest point of tannin. A wine of beautiful construction – not massive in any particular direction but beautiful all the same. Fabien notes that “Romaneche is about perfume, not structure. There are no bad vines in MAV, though they stole most of the good stuff from Chenas!” The 2016 Moulin à Vent Michelon, which Fabien describes ‘as the grand cru part’ has more aromatic density with a little herb, slowly some flowers too. It’s extra silky, with really big volume and a great reserve of flavour!
Fabien mentions that he also has a 2016 Fleurie but that it was hailed and needed tons of triage, say ‘It’s probably too concentrated, but I will put it in magnums and see.”
Now the 2015 – and as previously mentioned, probably to be bottled in August 2017:
Racked and sulfited a week ago – almost 9-10 hl/ha in 2015!
Open, some floral notes. Depth, fruit, gelée purity, massive, but only – little less than 13.5° – superb!
An inky depth of aroma – slowly adding floral notes too. Direct, muscled, great depth of flavour without fat, serious!
2015 Moulin à Vent
25 hl/ha – the best in 2015!
Dark fruit, growing beautifully floral. Big, indeed massive, great saline flavour. Super.
From Morriers and Chapelle du Bois
Still with plenty of CO2. Ooh, and despite the gas, this is super-silky – really bravo texture. Fleurie is a great rival to the MAV!
A deep and dark nose – spicily complex. Dark fruited. Supple, plenty of tannin, really intense, there is the sense of more extraction here, though its only 13°
The musts are allowed to brown/oxidise a little, here.
Vines above those of Leflaive. Probably to be bottled in June.
A nose of ripe citrus – a little hard. Supple, fresh, growing intensity, directly gourmand – such a tasty wine. A super finishing delicious flavour. Top!
Here argilles and schist, no wood. Fabien notes that ‘This is like the meurguez on the bbq when you see that it’s cooked, you are probably already a little late!’
A more textured depth of aroma – ripe lemon fruit behind. More gas here, more width and minerality too. Ooh this is a super wine – rigorous with its minerality, almost in a riesling style. But weighty and with freshness. Bravo!
South-facing, 60 year-old vines in Leynes – no wood.
A deep, concentrated, almost tight nose. This is also pronounced with mineral intensity. Here a little hard agrume flavour. This is a great wine, particularly so for the 2015 vintage.
Half young vines, half old. ‘A cuvée to represent Pouilly-Fuissé.
A slightly softer nose, a hint of oak here and softer citrus notes too. Fresh, a zip of gas, but what a line of flavour – you would never think this a 14° wine. Bravo again – great wine.
2015 Pouilly-Fuissé Vines Blanches
‘From the heart of the climat.’
A freshness and depth of aroma, some mineral reduction and plenty of oak showing. A hint reductive, muscular, good freshness. And even more impressive if less effusive (only a little) wine than the last. Long, long, long….
There’s also a Pouilly-Vinzelles, but it was racked and sulfured the previous day, so not shown.
And 2014 whites:
Here the nose is ripe, less overtly citrussy than many of the 15s but yellow-fruited. But in the mouth this is beautiful and has such energy and complexity… bravo! A great mineral finish of bravissimo!
From the same parcel as the 2015
I like this nose much more – its wide, complex, a little mineral. Fabulous in the mouth – wide, vibrant, saline and absolutely delicious – this is a little younger but I also find it even better than the Loché – bravo!
From Longerey, a small road separates this from the Les Quarts of the Brett brothers
Here is a little toasty reduction. There’s fine volume in the mouth, intensity, depth, faintly saline flavour – this wine misses nothing. Long, long, even if with relatively modest finishing intensity – bravo!
Here is a little more floral lift to the nose, with faint yellow fruit, of freshness. A good volume here, mouth-watering flavour, with a modest base of minerality and really a floral accent in the finish too – this is lovely…
And for the road…
2009 Moulin à Vent
A redder, round nose. Round, large-scaled, still a layer of tannin, more layers of slowly moving flavour. This is still a baby, but really an impressive one. A hint of bitter tannin in the finish too. Yum!
Red, spicy fruit, you fall off a cliff into the depth. Big volume again, muscular, some tannin, really brilliantly, brutally young. Great finishing – certainly more involving the last. Bravo!
This is herby and complex on the nose, it’s less overtly about fruit. Ooh! Direct, super-textured, sleek fruit accented with faint tannin, lots of energy and complexity – bravo! But this is really a baby!