A Legend Within Beaujolais

Today’s Story: Domaine de la Grand’Cour (Jean-Louis Dutraive)

Domaine de la Grand’Cour is one of the oldest estates in Fleurie of the Beaujolais wine region, established by Jean Dutraive in 1969. A fourth generation winemaker, Jean acquired 9.7 hectares in Fleurie in addition to 1.8 hectares in Brouilly which was part of his family’s property there. In 1977, Jean was joined by his son Jean-Louis (who eventually took over in 1989) and the domain transitioned to organic viticulture under Jean-Louis. A traditionalist at heart, Jean-Louis hand-harvests his fruit prior to low temperature carbonic maceration and fermentation using only indigenous yeasts. The entire vinification process occurs without sulfur additions, and the wines are gravity fed to the cellar for aging. During élevage, SO2 is rarely added or at times only in minimal quantities (often just before bottling) and the wines are all bottled unfined and unfiltered. Dutraive’s wines are known to be highly aromatic and beautifully expressive examples of Fleurie and Brouilly, pleasant in their youth but with the stuffing to develop and age for at least a decade in strong vintages.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Brouilly Cuvée Vieilles Vignes

100% Gamay; 13% ABV

The 2018 Brouilly Cuvée Vieilles Vignes is translucent pale purple in color, certainly showing its youth. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the aromas of pronounced intensity consist of brambly blackberry, pomegranate, cranberry, violet, scorched earth, eucalyptus, dried herbs, and graphite. Meanwhile on the palate I get notes of dried strawberry, pomegranate, blackberry, black plum, violet, savory green herbs, and slate with medium intensity. This dry Beaujolais is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $40 (closer to $30-35 in Europe). Jean-Louis Dutraive is a legend in Beaujolais, with absolutely justifiable cause. This is my third time enjoying this wine (because it’s that good) and I think it offers very solid value. While a lot of good Beaujolais can be found for $20-25, I think this sits in a perfect place in the range of Beaujolais where some reach $80 or even higher.

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