Tasted in Villié-Morgon with Philippe Bardet, Jean Pierre Rodet, Claire Forestier (right) and others, 14 December 2015.
The Beaujolais continues to have issues in connecting with its market; large areas of vines have been ripped out in the last years – and proper old vines in great locations too, and that’s because it’s so difficult to find a market for the wines. Beaujolais wines are sold ‘for a song’ relative to their quality.
With, from the consumer perspective, the great pricing of Beaujolais – certainly relative to the Côte d’Or – I keep telling myself that I should get out of my comfort zone and visit Beaujolais more often. But there’s a problem – I don’t really like the smell of carbonic maceration. But I really do like the wines once they have 5-10 years of age, because the essence of carbonic maceration fades. Then there are all those producers who are, more and more, turning to destemming their grapes – a more classical Côte d’Or (at least since the 1980s!) style of fermentation – these ‘carbonic-less’ wines I really enjoy too.
So there’s still potential!
It is fair to say that this tasting was not the usual ‘new vintage’ tasting; a range of wines including old vintages which culminated with the 1949 vintage. There followed a nice lunch, then a tasting of the new vintage. This was actually something of a ‘thank-you and goodbye’ from Xavier Barbet, the retiring head of Jean Loron. Grégory Barbet, aided by Philippe Bardet (ex Louis Max) taking up the reins.
I was particularly intrigued to see if I would meet the mythical ‘pinosity’ of old Beaujolais. Winemakers Jean Pierre Rodet and Claire Forestier – at least for the younger wines – were on hand to answer any questions. For those wines older than 2009, the labels become much less consistent in ownership:
I can honestly say that I was riveted by the quality of this tasting – I really am going to have to find some way of following through to taste wines made in this vernacular…
2011 Château de Bellevue, Morgon Les Charmes
40 year-old vines planted on East/south-east facing slopes in the climat of Les Charmes. The grapes are destemmed followed by a 25-day fermentation period. Part aged in oak foudres and barrels for 9 to 10 months.
Deep, faint leather and dark, fresh fruit. Silky, nicely layered flavour. Wide flavour perspective faintly plum spiced. Super drinkable and tasty.
2011 Château de Bellevue, Morgon Les Clos
70 year-old vines, planted around the château. The grapes are vinified in two different styles: half destemmed, half in whole bunches. A 25-day fermentation period followed by aging in oak barrels for 9-10 months, 2-4 year-old barrels.
Deeper colour, deeper nose, inky with vibrant dark fruit. Also beautifully silky but with more width and intensity. A super line, (rather than a width) of flavour, bright and simply excellent.
2009 Château de Bellevue, Morgon Les Charmes
A core of ripe dark fruit, with a faint spice. Like the 2011 this has a wide panorama of flavour over the palate – again a simmering plum impression with a faint, almost Christmas spice. The flavour narrows to a point in the finish. Fine, tasty, but I’ve a preference for the fresher 2011.
2009 Château de Bellevue, Morgon Les Clos
Deep, faint leaves and mushroom, a little reductive – complex and quite interesting, indeed yum! Supple, younger, fresher in the mouth than the nose would lead you to believe. Bright, energetic but modest intensity of complexity in the finish – here it is really beguiling. I’d really carafe this and drink it with joy over Christmas! Long-term the nose is more developed than the palate, but given the longevity of the wines here, I expect no issues to wait.
Next, Moulin-à-Vents, all carafed…
2011 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour
From the climat of Champ de Cour, deeper soil here.
Fresh dark fruit with a discreet floral herb and spice accent. Lithe, beautiful over the palate, a hint of salt, a textural opulence, richness of fruit without fat. Fine and wonderfully complex wine of balance and joy. Excellent – much more mineral and saline finishing than the mid-palate flavour.
2011 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent La Roche
Not surprisingly, from the climat of La Roche.
Fresher, more herbs, a deep but narrower aromatic profile. Really a much more structured, architectural form in the mouth, light tannin at the base, always fresh-flavoured. Bright, beautiful mouth-watering flavour to finish. Extra long! Certainly a wine to wait longer for than the Champ de Cour. Excellent again.
2011 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent Le Moulin
A little deeper colour – in sequence. Here is a little oak amongst the aromas. Deep, a little more deep ripe fruit, a little less herbed. Virile, complex, fabulous over the palate as the flavours melt across your tongue and gums. A sub-level of supple, hardly textured tannin – just a little textural drag, no grain. Gorgeous!
2010 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour
Deep, spicy, very faint sous bois – almost a round and textured nose. A very saline entry, wide, fine fruit that’s beautifully balanced. A beautiful line of flavour that’s sweet/sour – a lower-case ‘s’ on the sour. Relatively delicate in the concentrated context of these wines, but very fine and tasty.
2010 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent La Roche
A deep nose, faintly accented with some sweetness – almost toffee at the base, floral above. Supple, a little muscle, good density without fat with a basement of very fine textured tannin – that offers only an accent of dryness. Pretty fruit flavour. Just a little less stand-out vs the 2011 but super none-the-less. Fine semi-saline finish…
2010 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent Le Moulin
Deep colour again for this wine. The most floral of these wines. Large-scaled but no fat, floral-fruit flavour. A width of flavour, again with its feet in the tannin – but these wines offer only an accent of dryness and no grain. Bright and pretty finishing – more subtle than some before but with a fine discreet complexity.
2009 Jean Loron, Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour
A deep nose but also with vibrant, intense perfumed top notes. Fresh and supple but with ripeness and width of flavour. A little impression of minerality mixed in with the fruit. Beautiful floral-inflected finishing flavour. Far from the largest wine here but very pretty. Very yum!
2009 Domaine X et N Barbet, Moulin-à-Vent Les Pérelles
Fresh and wide, faintly herbed nose. In the middle there’s a fine sweetness of clean, pretty fruit. Much bigger in the mouth, complex, finely boned flavour with freshness and also weight. Lots of structure that I’d prefer to fade before attacking, but this is really excellent!
Quite deep colour, but here we’re clearly seeing some colour development. Wide, pretty, spicy with a depth of prune and plum fruit. Large-scaled, supple, deeply fruited but remains fresh and faintly salted. Here are layers of mid-palate flavour – beautiful rich-flavoured wine. Layered finishing too. Really excellent!
Almost saturated colour. Fresh, complex, sweetly mineral nose with graphite and iodine – almost fumé – individual and excellent. A hint of the nose comes through on the large-scaled, very floral palate. Big wine here, still with its feet in tannin. Excellent energy and complexity – and what a baby! Big finishing then narrowing to a slow fade. Impressive!
2003 Jean Loron, Mouin–à-Vent
Wow – now that’s nice – complex and pretty with lots of discreet notes over a more expected weight of intense ripe, simmering spiced plums. Weight but fresh complexity – the fruit is a little evolved and very faintly oxidised or almost petrol-inflected. Very lovely finishing flavour. I guess no rush but I’d drink it before the 2005!
1997 Jean Loron, Mouin–à-Vent
In this context a rather light colour – in a burgundian context, medium coloured. Deep, caramel, leaves, minerals – this is beautiful mature wine. Wide, intense, sweet complex and developed, meaty fruit. Only faint tannin here. Wide and really complex – this is beautiful wine. Classy and long. Gorgeous. The first wine that begins to remind me of great pinot noir.
1990 Jean Loron, Mouin–à-Vent
This is a more Beaujolais nose than the 1997 – it’s still young – in the glass it takes on a more oxidative old burgundy wine aroma – it changes very quickly. Big, an oxidised but super-tasty style of fruit of sweetness and wide complexity. Super tasty wine.
Medium colour with some browning. Deep, faintly reduced nose that opens and changes adding higher evolving tones. Fresh and wide, intense and complex, sweetened fruit, real pleasure and freshness here, faint banana in the mid-palate – but beautiful.
High toned nose that reminds me of graves blanc volatility but also with a weight of deeper, tighter fruit. Mouth-filling, almost over-filling, flavour, and width of flavour too. Brown sugar, fresh complexity. Bravo. Still an anecdote of tannin in the finish. An experience. The first bottling at the property.
A little browner colour. Wide, modestly overt nose, pretty freshness. More savoury – like a meat sauce flavour, yet sweet and perfectly delineated with fine fresh balance. Super long. More time in the glass and there’s a hint of an oxidative impression in the finish – that’s just a part of the joy in discovering these wines. Incredible length!
Ooh – wow! This smells like great Chambertin. A wine that majors on texture and complexity – the 1983++ A truffled but fresh, endlessly complex nose. Incredible weight, richness and beautiful flavour – still with an accent of tannin. “There are no magnums of old wines like this – the great vintages were more likely to have been in half bottles – so they could be drunk sooner! – Xavier Barbet. For me, the greatest wine of the tasting.
1949 Mouin–à-Vent Hospices de Mouin-à-Vent
A 7ha monopole, made by the Domaine Collin Bourrisset, and Louis Bourisset was granted the exclusive rights to sell the wine in 1926. Loron bought shares in this company – and to this day, Bourrisset still have the exclusive rights to sell this wine.
Original corks, waxed then with capsules. this really smells like 59 year-old pinot noir – good pinot noir. Floral top notes a certain sweetness and spice. Magnificent in the mouth; texture, complexity, intensity of flavour – it’s really only a modestly oxidative fruit. Fresh and alive in the mouth and the mid-palate and again in the finish. Almost creamy finishing. It was a different world in 1949 – here’s a chance almost to touch it! Today the 67 is the better wine – but I’m splitting hairs….