17 November 2016

yann bertrand's 1st beaujolais nouveau: "ptit bouchon"

Yann Bertrand with his demi-muid's of Beaujolais primeur
Fleurie's Yann Bertrand made a Beaujolais Nouveau this year from fruit purchased from Charentay vigneron Romain Jambon. It's stellar - a long, 16-day maceration yielded a sinuous, impossibly bright wine, with vigorous raspberry fruit. The quantity is minuscule, something like 2600 bottles. 

What makes the wine groundbreaking is Bertrand's decision not to filter it. He rightly figured that, given the tiny production, his primeur would be drunk in Fleurie, in Lyon, and at furthest, Paris. Little would be risked by avoiding filtration. For good measure, he took the unusual step putting the primeur in demi-muid for two weeks before bottling, so that the wine could clarify itself more quickly than it would have in tank. 

Almost no one releases unfiltered Beaujolais Nouveau. Off the top of my head, I can think of only Max Breton* and Romain des Grottes**, both of whose unfiltered primeurs are, incidentally, terrific. (Oh! And Marcel Joubert.)

There might be a few others who don't filter their Beaujolais Nouveau. But the overwhelming majority of otherwise #nofilter natural winemakers filter their primeurs, because the greatest demand is in the overseas market, and winemakers are reluctant to risk shipping such young, troubled wine without the stabilization of filtration. (Max Breton and Jean Foillard, both of whose primeur production is significantly bigger than Bertrand's, both laudably declined to sell primeur to Japan this year, saying the late harvest date made it impossible to have the wine done in time for shipment to the far east.)

A Beaujolais Nouveau display at a 7-Eleven in Tokyo, Nov. 2015.

Filtration has the same effect on a young wine as it does on a more mature wine: the wine is lightened, polished, stabilized, stripped of its grain, effectively neutered. 

I still like the filtered primeurs well enough and will surely drink several bottles' worth tonight. But I strongly believe that the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau could be rehabilitated - improved, even - if more winemakers were to make non-export cuvées like Bertrand's.

We, ahem, sampled a magnum of Breton's Beaujolais Nouveau at l'Auberge du Col du Truges last Sunday. 

If you want to see the Aurora Borealis, you don't search YouTube in a living room in Hackensack; you head to Norway or Iceland or Finland. If you want to taste true unfiltered Beaujolais Nouveau, visit France.

The just-pressed juice of Max Breton's Beaujolais Nouveau, Sept. 2015.
This year's selection of unfiltered Beaujolais primeurs at YARD Restaurant, Paris.

* Breton is sort of the North Star of Beaujolais Nouveau. His is the benchmark against which many winemakers measure their success in primeur vinification. 

** This is slightly misleading, because Romain des Grottes doesn't actually make a special primeur cuvée. His entire production, classed as Vin de France, sees zero élévage and early release, meaning it's effectively a Beaujolais Nouveau, but not legally. 

Related Links:

Beaujolais, Winter - Spring - Summer - Fall 2016:

Beaujolais Harvests 2016
Christophe Pacalet, Cercié
Sylvère Trichard & Elodie Bouvard (Séléné), Blacé
Jérome Balmet, Vaux-en-Beaujolais
L'Auberge du Moulin, Saint-Didier-sur-Chalaronne
Jean-François Promonet, Leynes
Hervé Ravera, Marchampt
Justin Dutraive, Fleurie
Julien Merle & Nathalie Banes, Legny
La Fête des Conscrits, Villié-Morgon
Domaine Leonis (Raphael Champier & Christelle Lucca), Villié-Morgon

Beaujolais, Autumn 2015:

Xavier Benier, Saint-Julien
Jean-Gilles Chasselay, Châtillon d'Azergues
Marcel Joubert, Quincié
Nicolas Chemarin, Marchampt
Anthony Thévenet, Villié-Morgon
Romain Zordan, Fleurie
Yann Bertrand, Fleurie
Domaine Thillardon, Chénas
Sylvain Chanudet, Fleurie
Patrick "Jo" Cotton, Saint-Lager
Pierre Cotton, Odenas
L'Auberge du Col du Truges, Le Truges
Julie Balagny, Moulin-à-Vent
La Cuvée des Copines 2015
Beaujolais Harvests 2015

Beaujolais Bike Trip, Summer 2015:

Georges Descombes, Vermont
Jean-Paul Thévenet, Pizay
Jules Métras, Fleurie
Rémi et Laurence Dufaitre, Saint-Etienne-des-Ouillières
Jean-Claude Lapalu, Saint-Etienne-La-Varenne
Benoit Camus, Ville-sur-Jarnioux

Beaujolais Bike Trip, Summer 2011:

Karim Vionnet, Villié-Morgon
Café de la Bascule, Fleurie
Isabelle et Bruno Perraud, Vauxrenard
Le Coq à Juliènas, Juliènas
L'Atelier du Cuisiner, Villié-Morgon

1 comment:

  1. The domaine botheland nouveau has a fair chunk of sediment in it - would that just be a light filtration?