On the Trail

The Year of Beaujolais

David Driscoll

People have been talking about Beaujolais's under-appreciated quality and value for years at this point, but here at K&L we're pretty sure that 2017 is going to be the year that grower-direct, no-frills, working-man's cru Beaujolais breaks here in the wine industry. There's no way it can't. Wine drinkers are too educated at this point for something this tasty, food-friendly, and affordable to continue flying under the radar; especially when those wines are being purchased directly by retailers and sold for sub-fifteen dollar price points. Beaujolais is as complex and terroir-driven of a wine as Santenay, Marsannay, or any other of the Côte d'Or's most basic village-level pinot noirs. It's just a matter of getting over the gamay hump; of proving to new consumers that good Beaujolais isn't all nouveau banana, much like we needed to show them not all riesling is sweet and goopy. In hammering that message home, I can't think of a better example to start 2017 with than the wines of Jean-Michel Dupré. Simply put, they're not only the best Beaujolais values I've ever tasted, they're also some of the best red wines in the store—period. 

As if the pure deliciousness of Dupré's wines weren't enough to sell you on them, there's also his work ethic and character to admire. Jean-Michel began his professional career with a small farm and a mere two hectares of vineyards left to him by his father—almost nothing in terms of a foundation. Everything he's built since that point has come as the result of hard work and determination. We met up with Jean-Michel for the first time this past Spring and liked him immediately. He told us how he started by turning the old farm into a small production center, setting out then to acquire small plots in some of Beaujolais's more renowned villages: Morgon, Régnie, and other general village-grade sites. Over time he has built up an impressive inventory of selections. Even within the village communes, Jean-Michel has always been particular about his fruit. For his explosive and incredibly-pure Régnie expression, all of the fruit comes from a small hill called "La Ronze", a site with heavy granite soils that lend a focused mineral backbone to all that concentrated fruit. The vines from that spot are also more than 100 years old, which is a big part of why those grapes have so much character. When you think about what this wine offers in terms of quality, integrity, and intrigue, and then you look at the $12.99 price tag, it's almost hard to fathom. I know it's easy to get bogged down in a sea of hyperbolic praise and bloated points in today's wine world, but this is one particular case where I don't think we can be excited enough. It's a symphony of red berries, black fruit, slate, balanced by perfect acidity. For twelve bucks, I'd say bite the bullet. It's my new favorite wine in the store.

If you want some more old vine magic, check out Dupré's Morgon "Vignes de 1935" which showcases the intensity and the potency of these eighty year vines planted at the base of the Côte du Py known as "Grand Cras". There's a lot more going here than just juicy fruit and refreshing acidity; there's incredible complexity, to boot: smoke, earth, dried herbs, and more. As a result, it's a bit pricier: a whopping $14.99. But again, this is what I'm talking about. How much longer can wines this good, with this much integrity, transparency, and character, remain a secret when they're so affordable compared to Burgundy's pinot noir selections? Mark my words: 2017 will be the year that Beaujolais breaks. That's why I'm filling up my cellar now and not later. Our full selection of Dupré wines can be seen here, with pricing that reflects our direct access to estate purchasing. If you need more romantic reassurance (and you want to practice your French), check out the video below that features Dupré as part of the focus:

-David Driscoll