Domaine Jules Desjourneys
Beaujolais, Part 8
Every region has its superstar producers. Beaujolais
has the gang of five natural winemakers, but now there’s a new star
who threatens to overshadow them all. It’s Fabien Duperry of Domaine
Jules Desjourneys, who is making world class wines from privileged
sites in Beaujolais (Gamay) and the Mâconnais. Having heard a
lot about him, I was thrilled to visit, even though it was Sunday
morning, and Chrissy and I were nursing slightly muggy heads after a
big night out in Villié Morgon that featured some of the
usual geek bottles of Beaujolais. We turn up for our appointment
with Fabien at 9 am, in La Chapelle de Guinchay, and there's the
usual uncertainty of where we're supposed to meet. He looks like
he's had a big night too, and I can sense him slightly regretting to
agreeing to the appointment.
through a large courtyard into a room with lots of art, and a table
laid with Zalto glasses. This is beginning to look a bit more
promising. We start the appointment in French, but after 10 minutes
he begins to speak in perfectly good English. As we taste together,
the atmosphere warms.
Duperray is a Beaujolais newcomer. He hails from Burgundy, where, as
a merchant, he's been flogging the top stuff for years. Controlling
the allocations of the leading domaines such as DRC and Coche is a
nice place to play in the market. His move to Beaujolais isn't in
order to make his fortune, but because at the age of 43 (he's now
54) he wanted to be a winegrower. 'I don't do it to make money; it's
my pleasure,' he says. Domaine Jules Desjourneys now consists of 7
hectares of Gamay in Fleurie and Moulin-Ã -Vent, plus 10 hectares of
white vineyards that he shares with another winegrower in the
MÃ¢connais. He made his first wines in 2006, when his production was
just 500 magums of each wine, bottles that he hasn't started to sell
yet. He pours the wines and talks.
believes that the fermentation process is the most important element
of wine. 'Jules Chauvet worked all his life on fermentation,' he
says. 'For me it is the most important bit in the cellar. I need the
best fruit, but I need to control the fermentation to have complex
aromas. With elevage you can't change things.' But he's also a
believer in time. Patience is needed to make great wine, and he
gives his wines lots of time. He's moved away from barrels, too. The
wines are now matured in a mix of concrete tanks and glass. 2014 was
the last year he used barrels, and then just for half of his wine.
stems and sulfites, usually topics of conversation in the region?
He's changed the proportion of stems. In the past it used to be
100%, but he's moved back a little and this year used 30%, but this
will depend on the vintage. 'It's nice to make wines you can keep
for 50 years, but it is also nice to make wines easier for the
consumer,' he says. 'In the future it will be easier to meet my wine
early, but you will still be able to keep it.' And sulfites? 'When
fermentation is carried out properly it doesn't need any SO2,' says
Fabien. He usually adds it in the second year, letting the aromas
develop and then stabilizing them with SO2.
Like many in
the region, he's experienced two short vintages because of hail. But
despite the decreased quantities in 2017, he's very happy with the
quality. Duperray sees the Beaujolais crus in analogy to Burgundy.
For him, the Cotes de Nuits is Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin-a-Vent,
then he sees Brouilly and Cotes de Brouilly as the Cotes de Beaune.
He rates Fleurie and Moulin as Beaujolais' best terroirs, followed
closely by Morgon.
We try the
'Last Judgement' Chenas 2017. It's deeply coloured, seductive has
incredible depth, and I'm blown away by it, but he thinks there is a
touch of rusticity here when compared with his other wines. I don't
understand what he means, that is until we taste the next wine. The
Morgon 2017 is also deeply coloured and thrilling, with intensity
and precision, with hints of blood and meat in the background. What
a wine! Then the Fleurie Les Moriers 2017, which in this vintage was
just 1000 litres from four hectares, and will just be made in
magnum. This shows concentration, freshness and elegance combined.
Then the last of the 2017s is the Moulin-a-Vent 'Styx', which this
year is a blend of vineyards because of small quantities. Elegant
and floral, this has such refined structure and is quite beautiful.
believes in Beaujolais, and he thinks you can keep his wines for 25
years. 'In the past, people kept Beaujolais, but the big merchants
decided you have to drink it young like Nouveau,' he says. 'But it's
a normal wine like Cote-Rotie.' He tells the story of trying the
Leroy Grands Echezeaux 1964 and the Chanson Fleurie 1964 blind with
a famous French critic, who got them the wrong way round. Duperray
has tried a lot of 1928, 1929 and 1934 Beuajolais that have aged
pays 2 Euros for his corks. 'The cork is essential for the life of
We had a
look at some bottled wines. Chenas 2015 has the trademark
Desjourneys density, but it's not at all heavy or clumsy, showing
lovely beauty and poise. Moulin-a-Vent 2015 has incredible freshness
and concentration, together with finesse and refined tannins. It's
still a little reductive and will keep for a long time. It's hard to
overstate how good these wines are. We're quite blown away by them.
This is everything you could want from Gamay.
there are the whites, from the Mâconnais (I tasted these later
at Noble Rot with Keeling and Andrew, the importers in the UK, but
I've threaded them in here). The 2015s, now in bottle, are quite
special. The Mâcon-Verzé is intensely aromatic with
ripe pear, peach and citrus on the nose, as well as a fine
spiciness, showing power and complexity, and a stony, mineral edge
to the fruit. The Saint-Veran is also intense, but has a little more
finesse and just a bit of fleshiness, as well as amazing focused
acidity. The Pouilly-Loche carries on with the same theme of
intensity allied to freshness, and adds some creamy richness, too.
But this is also steely and alive. And the Pouilly-Vinzelles is
perhaps finest of all, with concentrated fruit, a distinct spicy
mineral dimension, and lots of complexity. It's a remarkable set of
wines, redefining my sense of what the MÃ¢connais is capable of.
tasting, and Fabien talks about his art. There's a self-portrait on
the wall. He asks me if I know who it is. English artist, he says. I
get it right: Hockney. Phew! We wander through a few rooms and he
points out specific works. He's pretty international in his tastes,
and has accumulated around 1000 pieces now.
It's hard to
overstate how good these wines are, and how they transcend our
expectations of their appellations.
Jules Desjourneys Chénas The
Last Judgement 2017 (cask sample)
Low yields (less than 15 hl/ha
this year). Very deep colour with seductive black cherry and
blackberry nose, showing complex herbs and spices. Great
concentration and depth on the palate yet also shows freshness and
good acidity, with lots of structure. A really intense wine, perhaps
with a tiny hint of rusticity. 94-95/100
Jules Desjourneys Morgon Les
Corcelletes and Mecouds 2017 (cask sample)
Incredible density here. Deeply
coloured with floral aromas of blackberry and blackcurrant. Lovely
precision and elegance on the palate with great concentration,
lovely tannins and acidity, but the tannins are a bit more
sophisticated than with the Chenas. Astonishing freshness with a
hint of blood and meat in the background. Such impressive fruit
Jules Desjourneys Fleurie Les Moriers
2017 (cask sample)
10 hl off 4 ha of vines this
year, so he will just make magnums. So floral and expressive. Fresh
with amazing precision, showing such concentration but also
freshness and elegance. Supple, refined and fine. 95-96/100
Jules Desjourneys Moulin-a-Vent Styx
2017 (cask sample)
Fabien didn't have enough to make
the separate site wines this year so this is a blend of different
vineyards. Very floral with elegant black cherry notes. Such a
distinctive, refined enticing nose. Incredible elegance with
concentration but also freshness. The tannin and acid structure
already shows refinement and there's lovely black cherry character.
Jules Desjourneys Chénas 2015
was a special vintage,' says Duperray. 'I put the grapes in the vat
and did nothing. 10 days later I put them in the press. I didn't try
to extract anything, just preserve the freshness.' Lovely density
here. It has good concentration with fresh black cherries and
blackberries. This wine has a supple personality but also plenty of
structure and freshness. It has a hint of reduction. Great
concentration and refinement. 94/100
Jules Desjourneys Moulin-à-Vent
is special,' says Duperray. 'When I try this wine I believe it is
Hermitage.' So concentrated but with freshness and detail. Such
incredible freshness and concentration with a stony mineral
undercurrent. Very fine and expressive, and still a little
reductive. Complex and unfurled with firm but refined tannins.
Jules Desjourneys Beaujolais Blanc 2016
From granitic soils, Complex,
vivid and lively with a distinct lemony drive and good acidity, as
well as some nice texture. So mineral and intense with some richness
behind the citrus fruit. Shows lovely intensity. No wood here.
Jules Desjourneys Mâcon-Verzé
Intensely aromatic with ripe pear, peach
and citrus on the nose, as well as a fine spiciness. This has
amazing concentration allied to freshness. Powerful and complex with
a stony, mineral edge to the grapefruit, pear and pineapple fruit.
There's a lot of intensity here, and a sort of crunchy, mineral,
crystalline fruit quality. So intense with some crunchy structure.
Jules Desjourneys Saint-Véran
This is really interesting: there's
intensity here, but also lovely purity. Lemony with some grapefruit
characters and a hint of fleshiness. It's a bit stony, too. There's
amazing, focused acidity here. Such lovely focus and minerality
Jules Desjourneys Pouilly-Loché
Again, this has real intensity, with just
a hint of creaminess and lovely pear, white peach and pineapple
fruit. It's steely and alive with nice citrus and pear. Lemony and
vivid with keen acidity. Such a lovely, bright, delicate wine.
Jules Desjourneys Pouilly-Vinzelles
This is minerally and spicy with real
intensity. There's a hint of matchstick reduction with real
intensity to the citrus and pear fruit. Very mineral and expressive
with purity and focus. Such an expressive, pure, detailed, complex
3, Yann Bertrand
6, Jean-Marc Burgaud
7, Domaine Marcel Lapierre
8, Jules Desjourneys
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