Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Descombes fils vs. Thévenet fils

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Kewin “Kéké” Descombes is the son of renowned winemaker Georges Descombes and half-brother of Damien Coquelet. He made his first wine under his own name in 2013, when he was 21. His approach is similar to his father’s (organic farming, semi-carbonic maceration, indigenous yeasts, minimal or no sulphur). The wines appear to be popular in Japan. The three we tasted are currently sold out in Quebec though a second shipment is expected this spring.

Son of Jean-Paul Thévenet, one of the “Gang of Four” winemakers who spearheaded the natural Beaujolais movement, young Charly Thévenet worked at his father’s and Marcel Lapierre’s wineries before acquiring a parcel of old Gamy vines in Régnié. His first vintage was the 2007.

Beaujolais Villages 2014, Cuvée Kéké, Kewin Descombes ($25.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines grown in sandy soil in a 1.2-hectare vineyard in the commune of Corcelles. Fermentation lasted 15 days. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Textbook Beaujo nose: red berries, vine sap, earth, hints of game and iodine. Clean and quite dry. Light-bodied and not particularly deep – true to type, wot? – but wonderfully pure. The ripe fruit is laced with slate and stems. Fluent acidity keeps things fresh and adds a tang to the finish that calls you back for another sip. (Buy again? Sure.)

Morgon 2014, Jeunes Vignes, Kewin Descombes ($27.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Funky nose (the wine should have been carafed) of barnyard and burnt match but also red berries, peony and umami. Denser and fruitier than the Kéké. Very clean and dry with a stemmy structure, nipping acidity and a long granitic finish. Good now and probably even better in a year or three. For many around the table, the sweet spot in the KD line-up. (Buy again? Yes.)

Morgon 2013, Vieilles Vignes, Kewin Descombes ($36.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Closed and darker nose of red and black berries and slate with violet and kirsch overtones and a hint of caramel. Weighty and somewhat monolithic in the mouth. The components – including firm tannins – are all there but only just beginning to integrate. Struggling to find a descriptor of the flavour, I ended up with sukiyaki – a reference to the wine’s meatiness and umaminess. As broad, deep and long as it is inscrutable, this divided the table, with some calling it over-ambitious and others feeling it needs time. I’m in the latter camp, as I found the wine stylistically similar to the Morgons of Descombes père, which often require five or more years to coalesce and uncoil. (Buy again? A bottle or two for the cellar.)

Régnié 2014, Grain et Granit, Charly Thévenet ($35.00, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Gamay from 80-year-old biodynamically farmed vines grown in a 3 ha vineyard with granite soil. The grapes are manually harvested as late as possible and aggressively sorted, the idea being to have very ripe and impeccably clean fruit. The clusters are fermented whole with indigenous yeasts. The wine is matured on its lees in neutral Burgundy barrels. No filtering or fining. Use of sulphur dioxide is kept to a minimum. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Gorgeous wafting nose of wild strawberries, foliage, slate and peony. Medium-bodied. Pure, bright fruit and a little sap, silky tannins, fresh acidity and a fine mineral backbone. Earthy depth and a hint of herbaceousness are there if you force yourself to stop obsessing over the fruit and look for them. Long, balanced and abuzz with energy. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG February 11th tasting: flight 3 of 6

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Written by carswell

March 1, 2016 at 00:46

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