2020 Lapierre Morgon – $49/magnums $105
In June of 2000 I toured France with one of my distributors, who at the time represented the Kermit Lynch portfolio of wines in Florida. Our trip was arranged by Kermit’s office in Beaune, who organized our appointments at wineries and, perhaps more important, meals at his favorite restaurants in the areas we were visiting. I still think back fondly on that trip, my own Adventures on the Wine Route, (Kermit’s first book) except walking in the footsteps one of the titans of our business.
My Tim’s Pick Tuesday is a wine from Kermit’s stable, produced by the son of one of the “Gang of Four,” a group of winemakers in the cru of Morgon whom I met on that trip. While I am sometimes prone to hyperbole, I strongly believe they, and another dozen revolutionaries, changed the way the world thinks about Beaujolais. It is hard to believe now, as Beaujolais is a red hot category, but even in the early 2000s the wines were not well known or appreciated. Most consumers only knew the category for Beaujolais Nouveau. The comparison I draw is like having a meal in a starred restaurant in France (real Beaujolais), versus a microwave dinner from a discount grocery store. (Nouveau)
The gang of four, who for the record were Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Paul Thevenet, Guy Breton and Jean Folliard, were all disciples of a winemaker/professor named Jules Chauvet. Chauvet cautioned producers in Beaujolais to resist the fast nickel of growing grapes for Nouveau, and take the slow dollar by encouraging growers to farm organically, produce wines using classic techniques and bottle without man-made additives. Although the wines were bottled with sulfur, most of the time, they were truly some of the early “natural” wines on our shelves. (Long before the category was cool.)
My pick today is from the estate of Marcel Lapierre, who sadly passed away in 2010. The property is capably managed by his kids, Mathieu and Camille. Many of you may know their bistro wine, Raison Galois, which is very popular. Their flagship Morgon is a mind blowing example, produced from organically grown grapes from vines that are 60+ years old. The wine is fermented with whole clusters, then left on the skins for up to twenty days. Aging is in old Burgundy barrels, nothing newer than three years old.
I will tell you it is is a bit criminal to drink this wine now, but it is also hard to resist. In the summer you can buy wild strawberries in the street markets of France, called fraise de bois, and although small, they pack more flavor than a whole pint of Driscoll’s finest. This wine smells like those, with notes of lavender, oolong tea, pink peppercorns and blood orange too. On the palate it is not heavy, but somehow keeps going, and going, with a good crunch on the finish. I have several vintages of this wine in my cellar, I alike them when they are 5-7 years old, but they go much longer. Grab a bottle, or two, and tuck it aside for a few years, you will thank me.