Beaujolais adventures (1) the newcomers – tasting wines from new producers

Beaujolais is a dynamic region, with lots of newcomers keen to get involved. Partly this is because it’s a beautiful region with great terroirs, and a grape – Gamay – that is more than able to express them when the winemaking is sensitive. But it’s also affordable: you can buy grapes or even a vineyard here without being wealthy. One challenge, though, is where to vinify the wines. There’s a real shortage of cellars here because in the past many growers either sent their grapes to the cooperative or large negociant, or they made the wine in small cellars under their homes. They retire, but they still live in their homes. This can make it tricky for new domaines who don’t come from a family of winegrowers.

This tasting was the result of an open call to winegrowers who had their first vintage since 2019, or where there has been a change of ownership. I was really encouraged by the overall quality of the wines, and found some real gems.

Where prices are given these are ex cellar, but they may not be completely reliable! Treat them as a rough guide.

Domaine Gaudet Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay 2022 France
13.5% alcohol. Clay soils, from 0.3 hectares. Tank fermented and aged. This is really nicely textured with sweet pear and white peach fruit, with some fine chalky mineral notes sitting under the ripe fruit. Lovely balance and harmony here with nice purity, good flavour intensity, and a fresh finish with a touch of lemon brightness. 91/100 (€11)

Domaine Gaudet Beaujolais Lantignié 2022 France
13% alcohol. One hectare plot, granitic soils. Whole bunch maceration for 7/8 days then ageing in tank. Bright, vivid, fresh and floral with lovely sweet raspberry notes on the nose as well as a touch of herbs. The palate is focused and fresh with lively red fruits, good acidity, a bit of structure and massive drinkability. Such lovely pure fruit, with good concentration. 93/100 (€10)

Chateau Cambon Beaujolais Blanc 2022 France
11.5% alcohol. Alexandre Iwasuila took over here in 2022. Soils are clay, in conversion to organics. 90% steel, 10% barrel, minimal sulfites. Chalky, lemony nose with nice focused citrus and green apple fruit. Supple, elegant fruit with a lovely stony mineral thread, as well as citrus and pear fruit. Shows lovely poise and elegance, with fine detail. A beautiful wine. 94/100 (€17)

Château Cambon Beaujolais Villages 2022 France
13% alcohol. From Cercié, a 1 hectare plot, semi-carbonic maceration then barrel ageing. Pure and supple with nicely textured ripe cherry and raspberry fruit with a good crunchy structure under the vivid fruit. There’s a brightness and fine spiciness here and this has good detail and freshness. Some subtle smoky mineral notes in the mix. 93/100 (€17)

Jean de Rotalier is the proprietor of this domaine that began in 2020. They are in conversion to organics, and have 3.5 hectares of vines.

L’Arbuissonnière Sous Le Chemin Beaujolais-Villages 2021 France
12% alcohol. Organic farming, traditional maceration of 15 days, then ageing in stainless steel. This is quite beautiful, with savoury, spicy, slightly earthy and iodine-laced black cherry fruit with notes of spice and dried herbs. Has some ripeness, but also spicy, savoury complexity, and tastes natural, but in a really nice way. There are hints of good wildness here, but they work in the context of the ripe fruit, as a sort of seasoning. Incredible drinkability. 93/100 (€15)

L’Arbuissonnière 2022 Vin de France
12.5% alcohol. 100% Gamay. Lively, juicy and quite natural, with a lovely savoury spicy edge to the black cherry and plum fruit. Nicely mellow and complex, this has some warmth, and the savoury, spicy notes fit in nicely with the sleek, open fruit. Hints of silage and black pepper, with some sweet acidity on the finish. This holds its line, teetering a little on the edge of wildness, but works really well. 92/100

Julien Ruet Arbuissonnas Au Temps Pour Moi 2020 Beaujolais Villages, France
13.5% alcohol. Sandy granitic soils, organic farming. 0.8 hectares of vines. Pump overs rather than carbonic, then 12 months in oak. Deeply coloured with liqourice and spice on the nose as well as sweet black fruits. Dense, bold and concentrated on the palate with firm structure under the sweet fruit, showing a serious, quite ambitious side of Gamay that could age well. 93/100 (€15)

Julien Ruet Arbuissonas Les Combes 2020 Beaujolais Villages, France
13.5% alcohol. Sandy granitic soils, organic farming, pump overs not carbonic, ageing in enamelled concrete. Concentrated, lively, bright and vivid with juicy raspberry and cherry fruit as well as some grippy tannins. This has a lot of flavour and intensity, with good acidity creating a mouthwatering finish. Quite bold and raw, with good extraction, nice purity, and nice brightness. 92/100 (€10)

Anastasia Kritikou is Greek, married to an Italian, and they moved to Beaujolais. They are in the first year of conversion to organic farming.

Domaine de Romarand Beaujolais Lantignié alpha 2021 France
12% alcohol. 0.74 hectare plot, blue stone soils, gobelet. 100% destemmed, wild yeasts, no sulfites until bottling, aged 8 months in concrete egg. Refined aromatics with black cherries and plums. Beautifully proportioned elegant palate with purity, some fine spicy notes, some dark undercurrents and a grainy structure supporting the sweet black cherry fruit. Has a hint of liqourice and minerals. Profound. 95/100 (€9)

Domaine de Romarand Regnié Delta 2021 Beaujolais, France
12% alcohol. 0.62 hectare plot, cordon pruning, pink granite. Whole bunch, semi carbonic, wild ferment, aged in old oak. Fresh, linear and nicely structured with bright red and black cherry fruit, some stony minerality and a sense of freshness. But there’s depth here, too: quite silky in the mouth although there’s some structure, too. A lovely expression of Regnié. 94/100 (€9)

First vintage of this domaine was 2020, and it is run by Loic Crispin and Fabien Pinguet. They have 7 hectares of vines in all.

Domaine Les Garçons Beaujolais Villages 2022 France
12.5% alcohol. From the Garanche lieu dit, east facing. Organic/biodynamic, from a 2.75 hectare plot, 45 year old vines. 6 day carbonic maceration with no additions, then aged 4 months in stainless steel. This is beautiful: juicy and vivid with good acidity and a bit of crunchy structure, showing pure, joyful raspberries and cherries, with some dried herb complexity. Fine and focused with a lovely juiciness and drinkability. Lovely vitality here. 93/100

Domaine Les Garçons Brouilly 2021 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. From the La Valette and La Pillonière lieux dits, average age 38 years. 75% whole bunch, 15 days of vatting, no inputs. Aged in a mix of stainless steel and old oak. Some sappy green hints on the nose, as well as a touch of nice reduction, with pure, lively redcurrant and raspberry fruit. The palate is really lively with a stony mineral edge to the incisive cherry and berry fruits, showing good acidity and nice fine-grained structure. There’s a lovely balance, with pure fruit but also some vitality. So alive, and the reduction works well here. 94/100

Domaine du Long Nuage Blanc is owned by Michael Gilboux and Alexia Koener, and they are based in Chiroubles.

Domaine du Long Nuage Blanc Régnié Thulon 2021 Beaujolais, France
12% alcohol. From a 0.56 ha plot in lieu dit Thulon at 350 m with a 15% slope, facing ENE, decomposed granite soils. In conversion to organics. Whole bunch semi carbonic, then aged in tank. Fresh, alert and lively with a slight smoky reductive note providing a foil to the sweet cherry, raspberry and plum fruit. Pure with nice definition to the fruit, and a sense of freshness. Bright acidity here works really well. 92/100

Domaine du Long Nuage Blanc Chiroubles Rochefort 2022 Beaujolais, France
13.5% alcohol. Rochefort lieu dit at 430 m, shallow granitic sand, 0.53 ha plot. Whole bunch semi carbonic then aged in tank. Ripe, brooding, dark and generous with sweet black cherries and some fine spicy notes, as well as a stony minerality. Lovely sweet fruit here, but it doesn’t stray into jamminess. Shows exuberance, but also has a fresh, finely spiced finish. 93/100

Prunelle de Navacelle comes from the region and set out on her own in 2017, and has four hectares in organic and biodynamic farming. She is interested in agroecological approaches. The wines have a long maceration and are oak aged, with some sulfites added at bottling.

Prunelle de Navacelle Beaujolais Lantignié 2022 France
13% alcohol. 2.23 hectares, 70 years old, from 3 plots on granite and volcanic soils. Semi carbonic, aged in 3500 litre oak. A little lift on the nose. Lively, sweet palate with cherries, spice, minerals and some grip. This is quite a lively wine, but there’s also some richer black fruit character giving bass notes. Sweet spicy acidity on the finish. 91/100

Prunelle de Navacelle Régnié 2022 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. From a 0.64 hectare plot, 80 year old vines, sandy granitic soils. 70% whole bunch, 15 day maceration, aged in 600 and 3500 litre oak. Supple and quite elegant with a nice combination of ripe cherry fruit, some spicy structure and good acidity. Brooding, complex and nicely weighted, this is a really expressive wine with a nice dynamic range. 93/100

Domaine Romanesca was founded by the parents of the current proprietors, Olivier and Antoine Chastel. Lucrèce Bruyant is also working with them. They are in the final year of conversion to organics.

Domaine Romanesca Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour 2019 Beaujolais, France
13.5% alcohol. 1.2 ha plot with 50 year old vines, pink granite soils, whole bunch semi carbonic then aged in concrete tanks. This is supple, elegant and stony with a firm mineral streak to the fresh cherry and plum fruit. Has a savoury dimension and hints of pepper. Restrained and well balanced, this has nice intensity and focus. 91/100

Domaine Romanesca Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle 2020 Beaujolais, France
14.75% alcohol. Deep pink granitic sand, 1.2 hectare plot, whole bunch semi carbonic maceration, then aged in old oak. This is ripe and bold, with a sweet core to the cherry and plum fruit, showing some stony detail. It’s very ripe in style, with a sweetness to the fruit, but also some mineral notes in the mix. Avoids jamminess, but the alcohol makes itself felt. 91/100

Benjamin Passot Chénas 2022 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. 30 year old vines, lieu dit en Pérelle, 0.4 ha,  soils clay and pebble (alluvial), Burgundian maceration (destemmed) with wild yeast. This is bright and juicy with vibrant raspberry and cherry fruit, showing freshness and detail. The palate has some wet stone detail and nice acidity, offering a vivid, alert style of Gamay that’s really satisfying. 92/100

Benjamin Passot Juliénas Vaux Vieilles Vignes 2021 Beaujolais, France
11.5% alcohol. Blue granite soils. Semi carbonic maceraton, wild yeasts. Supple, fresh, lively and stony with a mineral streak to the focused cherry and raspberry fruit. This is bright and vital with a leanness on the palate, finishing fresh and finely spiced. Taut style. 92/100

Maud Matray spent five years working as an engineer on construction sites, before returning to her family domain in 2020, to form Domaine Matray & Filles. Organic farming.

Domaine Matray & Filles Chiroubles Cuvée Le Truges 2022 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. 1 ha plot at 450 m. Intense and vibrant with lovely juicy cherry and plum fruit showing nice brightness with good acidity and a bit of tannic crunch. Lovely intensity here with plenty of extraction and nice freshness. Very primary. 93/100

Domaine Matray & Filles Fleurie Montgenas 2022 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. 0.7 ha plot at the top of the hill. Fresh herb-laced berry fruits nose. The palate is stony and bright with nice juiciness and a sense of restraint, showing good structure and nice acidity. Refined and quite mineral, this has the potential for development. 93/100

Les Vignes de L’Amandier is the project of Claire Arnal, who began in 2019. Based in Régnié, she’s in conversion to organics, and has 3 hectares of vines.

Les Vignes de L’Armandier Afterwork Régnié La Haute Plaigne 2021 Beaujolais, France
12% alcohol. Granite soils at 330 m. Carbonic maceration then ageing in tank and barrel. Supple, bright, juicy and quite stony with redcurrant and red cherry fruit. Has a lightness and brightness to it with a fine, fresh finish. Nice elegance here, in a slightly lighter style. 91/100

Les Vignes de L’Armandier Tilleuls Régnié La Haute Plaigne 2022
13% alcohol. Ripe, supple and rounded with sweet strawberry and cherry fruit. Has a lightness to it, but also some generosity, with a core of sweet fruit. Quite an elegant style showing nice weight and precision. 91/100

Lan Bertrand, Domaine Minhaé. Has 2.2 ha and works alone, without a tractor, and no ploughing. Uses cover crops and herbal medicine. He adds basalt which helps microbes grow. Tressage is used, he lets the plants grow, and he uses sheep during winter. He’s planning to plant trees.

Domaine Minhaé Beaujolais Blacé 2022 France
11% alcohol. One third each clay, silt and sand. This is bright, fresh, juicy and elegant with red currants, raspberries and dried herbs. Light and vital, this has a sense of energy, with a stony, mineral edge to the fruit and a nice juiciness on the finish. Natural and delicious, this is a beautiful expression of Gamay. 93/100

Domaine Minhaé Moulin-à-Vent Sun 2022 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. Granite, piedmonts and alluvium. This is quite dark and rich, with sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, showing a lushness and almost liqueur-like quality to the fruit. Luxurious and expansive, this has a lot of depth to it, with nice saline and charcoal notes in the background. 92/100

Thibault Ducroux established this domaine with Dimitri Ducroux in 2019.

Thibault Ducroux Beaujolais En Roue Libre 2022 France
13% alcohol. Clay/limestone soils, organic farming. Carbonic maceration then ageing in concrete tank. Translates as free wheeling. Bright and juicy with lovely fresh crunchy raspberry and red cherry fruit, showing nice grip. Playful and pure, and very drinkable. 92/100

Thibault Ducroux Morgon 2022 France
13% alcohol. From Les Charmes and Corcelette, granite and schist soils. Carbonic, then tank and old barrel, low sulfites. Juicy, mineral and vibrant with lovely crunchy cherry and raspberry fruit. Shows nice weight and precision with a bit of grip. There’s purity to the fruit here, and real drinkability. 93/100

Château de Rougeon is run by Isabelle Bouchard. Farming is organic.

Château de Rougeon Fleurie Poncié 2020
13% alcohol. Semi carbonic maceration then 10 months in old oak. Lively with a little CO2 prickle to it, showing juicy red cherry and berry fruits with good acidity. Focused and alert, this wine is very bright with a sour cherry and redcurrant finish. 91/100

Château de Rougeon Fleurie Poncié 2021
12% alcohol. Semi carbonic then 10 months in old oak. This is very fresh, linear, stony and supple with bright red cherry fruit as well as a touch of strawberry. Very lively with good acidity: an elegant style with a flinty, mineral edge to the red fruits. A light wine but it shows lovely complexity. 94/100

Aurelie et Fabien Romany Into The Wild Beaujolais 2020 France
13% alcohol. Organic. Wild yeasts and sulfites only before bottling. Vivid, fresh, supple and juicy with lovely crisp sweet cherry and plum fruit. Has some depth. It’s a very friendly wine with a hint of seriousness. Nice grip and focus here. 92/100

Aurelie et Fabien Romany Aux Ecully 2021 Beaujolais, France
12.5% alcohol. Organic. Smoky, spicy, herby and complex with some mulchy green notes, a touch of pepper, and sweet, vivid raspberries and cranberries. Lively with good intensity and focus. Finishes bright. 92/100

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