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.

Gamay With a Mind Blowing Value Proposition

Today’s Story: Marchand-Tawse

Marchand-Tawse is a Burgundian négociant created through a collaboration between Pascal Marchand and Moray Tawse. Both Pascal and Moray are French Canadians, making their success in Burgundy somewhat unusual.

Pascal Marchand comes from a background in wine (after working a few years as a merchant sailor on freighters in the Great Lakes), having taken over Clos des Epeneaux in Pommard in 1985 at the age of 22. Pascal was one of the early adopters of organic and biodynamic viticulture in Burgundy, bringing heightened quality to Clos des Epeneaux and world renown to its name. Jean-Charles Boisset later approached Pascal to run his family’s Domaine de la Vougeraie in 1999, and he remained there until 2006 when desiring more freedom in his ventures. Pascal took over at Domaine Jean Fery, all the while setting the stage for his own label that would eventually become Marchand-Tawse.

Moray Tawse, on the other hand, has a background in finance and co-founded First National in Canada which focuses on real estate lending. He has had a long-standing love of wine, however, which led him to establish Tawse Winery which is one of Canada’s leading wineries. Thanks to his love of Burgundy, Moray approached Pascal in 2010 and the two established their partnership.

Marchand-Tawse sources fruit from a great number of vineyards, most of which are either organically or biodynamically farmed. The négociant produces a wide range of wines, spanning appellation and village bottlings up to some of the greatest Grand Crus. Pascal’s winemaking style is rather traditional, seeking to have the fruit and terroir express themselves in a most honest and transparent form. Many of the wines, like the one I’m reviewing today, are left 100% whole cluster and not destemmed before fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aging for my wine today, amongst others in the portfolio, occurs in French oak barrels 0% new and there is no fining or filtration before bottling.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons

100% Gamay; 12.5% ABV

The 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons is mostly opaque pale to medium purple in color with ruby hues. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of red cherry, raspberry, baked strawberry, violet, lightly charred soil, finely crushed rock, and stemmy underbrush. On the palate, I get notes of brambleberry, plum, ripe raspberry, pomegranate, dried forest floor, clay, green herbs, and light smoke. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. I could see this developing further over the coming few years, but it’s hard to resist right now. 362 cases produced.

Price: $24. This is an outstanding value wine in my opinion, as it drinks with such depth and terroir expression rarely found in bottles of this price range. The quality of fruit is also spectacular. Pair with seared duck breast, coq au vin, or grilled salmon.