When most wine drinkers first experience Beaujolais, it’s usually in the form of Beaujolais Nouveau, a fun fresh wine, typically the first wine to be released from France each year. Kind of like lower level Hunter Semillon. It’s not very serious, but, great to hoover slightly chilled on a hot day.
Then there are the more serious wines. Both styles are made from Gamay, yet, from fun and fresh you go to wines every bit as intriguing as good Burgundy. They’re not directly comparable, yet, there can be similar traits.
The first serious Beaujolais I had was near 40 years old when I drank it whilst studying winemaking. It was a revelation.
Of late, the wines of two producers, have been popping up consistently as a pleasure to devour, those of Thivin and Daniel Bouland, oh and Foillard.
Today we offer the 2016’s from Bouland + a special shipment of the 2015 Côte de Brouilly ‘Cuvée Mélanie’ named for his daughter. It’s fascinating to see the wines together and just how much difference a year makes to the harmony of the wine comparing the 2015 to the 2016’s. It’s a great insight into the progression of good Beaujolais. Bouland’s will surely be better with 3-5 years of age, but will undoubtedly last much longer.
My tips, go longer on the2015 Côte de Brouilly ‘Cuvée Mélanie’ and 2016 Daniel Bouland Morgon ‘Corcelette’.
About Daniel Bouland
Daniel Bouland makes some of the most old school and expressive wines in the whole of Beaujolais. Hand harvested from very old, organically-tended Gamay vines in the Morgon lieux-dits of Douby, Côte de Py and Delys, the Bouland wines are defiantly deep, dark, country-style reds with plenty of grip and overflowing with personality. These are wines that are built for the long hall, unlike so many of the region’s wines. Daniel himself recommends five years in bottle for the terroir to show the wine’s true sense of clarity and mineral nuance. From the best years, 15 years will not weary the Morgon cuvées. This is not to say they cannot be approachable as youngsters.
“This tiny wine grower of the hamlet of Corcelette (note the first name as there are numerous Boulands in the area!) has seduced us for a few years now with his concentrated and textured Morgons. The fruit weight in no way masks the almost wild minerality of the soil. These wines have an intensity that can only come from old vines that are impeccably cultivated.” La Revue du Vin de France
Bouland portrays the artisanal Beaujolais vigneron in perhaps its purest form. He works alone in his vineyards where most of the material is gnarled, old goblet vines. His young parcels have been planted with selections massal from his older vineyards. Nothing is sweetened and nothing is taken away from the raw, visceral goodness of the juice. Hand-harvesting, very low yields, old wood, wild yeast fermentations, 100% whole bunch (open) ferments and non filtration, places him very much in the back-to-basics-dirt-under-the-fingernails camp. What we are left with is a serious glass of honest, handmade refreshment from a unique and respectful grower.
“Daniel Bouland is one of the best winemakers in Morgon. Perhaps his profile is not as high as the likes of Lapierre or Foillard, but I think his wines are on the same quality level. Check out his stunning Morgon Corcelette, one of the best examples you will find – his 2015 a must-have for any cellar. And his Morgon de Lys Vieilles Vignes, from vines as old as 90 years, has the complexity and nuance to rival many wines in the Côte d’Or but at a fraction of the price.” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
There are 3 classification in Beaujolais.
- Beaujolais – Generic Beaujolais. much of this goes into Beaujolais Nouveau.
- Beaujolais Village – The mid-Tier split between a portion of Beaujolais Nouveau and more serious wine released the following year.
- Beaujolais Cru – The best gear we like to play with. There are 10 Cru’s.
Daniel Bouland’s vineyards are in the Cru’s of Côte des Brouilly, Morgon, and, Chiroubles.
The 2016 Vintage
We’re extremely grateful that Daniel Bouland cannot add ‘clairvoyant’ to his list of talents. When we met Bouland at the cellars in 2016, a devastating bout of hail and frost had smashed his vines and a naturally downcast Bouland told us that the Domaine was expecting to reap a paltry 5-6 hl/ha of juice from his eight hectares of vines. This would have likely meant no allocation for Australia. Fortuitously, the hail and the frost had struck in April and May, before flowering, and the vines somehow bounced back to ‘bless’ the Domaine with some 25 hl/ha (in an ideal year his yields would sit songs 45 hl/ht). So finally we do have some wine to offer this year. Perhaps not enough to crack open the Egly-Ouriet, but some wine nevertheless!
In spite of these low yields, Bouland’s 2016s are not concentrated fruit bombs. On the contrary, the season encouraged Bouland to literally tread lightly, in so far as the extraction went, and so what has resulted is a set of mouth-watering, pure and precise Beaujolais of terrific perfume, supple freshness and vibrancy. These are wines that, in Bouland’s words, are “très gourmand”. Gourmand is another of those French words that is difficult to translate, but what Bouland means is that they are seductive and delicious now. Hedonistic even. They are not the heroic 2015s, but they are every bit as delicious. Following a hyped vintage is never easy, yet Bouland’s 2016s make it look relatively easy.
All Bouland’s wines undergo natural yeast, 100% whole bunch fermentation, before ageing in large, neutral oak, and are bottled without fining and only a light filtration. The process that most impacts the style of wine made is the 100% whole bunch fermentation. Also known as carbonic maceration.
Whole clusters of grapes are placed in a fermenter with the weight of the grapes crushing those at the bottom releasing juices that start to ferment producing carbon dioxide that protects the grapes from going volatile. Over time each grape begins to ferment indiviudally, creating complexity. The extraction of tannin is typically very gently. The techniques applied by the maker to manage the whole bunches during fermentation impacting the levels of extraction. The longer the wine is left before pressing to separate the liquids from the skins and stalks the greater the extraction, the more the work the ferment by pumping over the liquids or any other techniques the greater the extraction.
The aromas of whole bunch wines tend to be quite perfumed and elegant. The terroirs of each of the wines having an impact. As a generalisation, of Daniel’s wines the Chiroubles tend to be the lightest, followed by the Côte de Brouilly in the middle, with the Morgon’s the fullest bodied.