I recently came across a couple of tasty wines from the almost unknown top (closer to the source) / bottom (in the Massif Central) corner of the Loire valley. The wines were both bottles under cork and screwcap.
David Lloyd of Eldridge Estate on Red Hill is a self-confessed ‘hillist’ of Mornington Peninsula. He used to think the “best pinot noir [came] from ‘the downs’ because it’s warmer” but he was persuaded by early pioneer Nat White of Main Ridge to focus on pinot noir from the hills.
Schools of thought are evolving in Beaujolais, especially in the Beaujolais crus, around semi-carbonic maceration versus a Burgundian style of fermentation using de-stemmed grapes with pump-overs or punch-downs to extract colour and tannins. To see if it is possible to begin to taste the difference between these two vinification methods, I conducted a tasting seminar.
Carbonic maceration and semi-carbonic maceration are not quite the preserve of Beaujolais and the gamay grape, but this is the region where the techniques reach complex and varied permutations. The process can produce vibrant, lively, fresh, and sometimes also very serious, wines.
Château des Jacques has been part of the Maison Louis Jadot stable since 1996. Though not certified, certain biodynamic practices have been adopted as Guillaume de Castelnau revitalises the estate.
First generation winemaker, Julien Sunier is one of the new generation of producers doing excellent work in his vineyards, thus helping to revitalise the reputation of Beaujolais.
Julie Balagny, having spent ten years at Terre des Chardons in the southern Rhône, is renting 3.2 contiguous hectares on the remote, upper slopes of Fleurie, in Beaujolais. “I love gamay” she says.
Sweet, rich paradis.
Jean-Marc Burgaud has 13 ha in Morgon, 5 ha in Beaujolais Villages and 1 ha in Régnié, which is “the maximum for me” he said, adding, while “it’s always possible to grow bigger, it’s important to stay precise” and it’s that attention to detail that is reflected in his wines.
Château Thivin is the oldest estate on the slopes of Mount Brouilly, in Beaujolais. It is now run by Claude Geoffray, father and son: Claude-Vincent the father, and Claude-Edouard, the son and sixth generation.