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MWG November 22nd tasting (3/5): A case study of terroir

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While not part of the pioneering “Gang of Four” natural Beaujolais producers (Marcel Lapierre, Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet and Jean Foillard), Jean-Paul Brun has been making natural-leaning wines for a long time (his first vintage was 1977). Based in Charnay, in the southern Beaujolais, he also owns several cru vineyards in the north. He farms organically, harvests manually, ferments using the yeasts on the grapes’ skins and, preferring naturally lower alcohol levels, doesn’t chaptalize.

His other wine-making practices are more Burgundian than modern-day Beaujolaisian. Many Beaujolais producers favour carbonic maceration of whole clusters. But at Terres Dorées, the grapes are table-sorted, destemmed, placed in open vats and stomped. The resulting juice is macerated for three to four weeks, then transferred to concrete and/or oak vats, all depending on the cru and vintage. The wines are very lightly filtered and sulphured before bottling.

Though Brun’s wines have featured in several Mo’ Wine Group tastings, we’d never had the opportunity to taste side-by-side the three crus carried by the SAQ in the same vintage (Brun also produces a Fleurie that I’ve never seen on the monopoly’s shelves). As the wines are, for all intents and purposes, made identically, any discernible differences should be attributable to terroir. The idea behind this flight was to see what those differences would be.

Morgon 2010, Terres Dorées, Jean-Paul Brun ($19.85, 11589746)
100% Gamay from low-yielding old vines planted in very poor granitic and sandy soil in the Grand Cras section of the appellation, south of the Côte de Py. 12% ABV.
Effusively scented nose dominated by lightly candied cherry and slate. Rich and fluid. The ripe fruit is brightened by tangy acidity and deepened by faintly bitter minerals. The overriding impression is one of purity and freshness. Lovely and accessible, though like the other crus, capable of improving with some time in the cellar. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Côte de Brouilly 2010, Terres Dorées, Jean-Paul Brun ($19.25, 10520237)
100% Gamay from 50-year-old vines planted in blue granitic scree in the Petite Roche and Croix Desseigne sections of the appellation. 12% ABV.
Plummier, with a sappy, ferrous note. In the mouth, similar to – though more fruit-driven than – the Morgon, with the same mineral substrate. Silky texture, crisp acidity, good length. Enjoyable today but probably even better in two or three years. (Buy again? Yes.)

Moulin-à-Vent 2010, Terres Dorées, Jean-Paul Brun ($22.05, 10837331)
100% Gamay from low-yielding old vines planted in granitic soil in the Tour du Bief section of the appellation. 12% ABV.
Dark, inky, elegant nose: a step closer to Burgundy. The texture is smooth and velvety and the wine is the most structured of the three. But it’s also, for now, the most closed and least expressive. Vigorous chewing cracks open the door a little, revealing hints of cherry and black raspberry, forest floor and minerals. The potential is clearly there. Give it at least a couple more years in the cellar and up to ten. (Buy again? A patient yes.)

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Written by carswell

December 2, 2012 at 13:17

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