On the Trail

The King of Brouilly Hill

David Driscoll

When esteemed hills are mentioned in Burgundy it's usually those in the Côte d'Or where the region's primo real estate generally lies. The hill of Corton, for example, home to the largest grand cru vineyard in the region. I once went so far as to have a picnic lunch there a few years back because the romanticism involved. However, rarely do people speak romantically or reverently about the hills of Beaujolais, located further south of the golden slopes and planted with gamay instead of pinot noir. Yet, it was from the great hill of Brouilly, one of Beaujolais's most prestigious cru-level communes, that two incredible wines were created by the Perroud brothers, one of the last estates we visited on our recent trip to Burgundy. Full of granite and schist, and easy to drain after the annual rainfalls, the hill is known for producing some of the most elegant and meticulous wines in the region—an easy characterization to believe after having tasted both the 2015 Brouilly "Vieille Vignes" and the 2015 Brouilly "Amethyste" expressions. Packed with lush fruit up front, but bolstered by structured tannins, black licorice, earth, and a surprisingly mineral core, the Perroud brothers have just made a serious a case for this oft overlooked Burgundian dune.

In addition to collaborating on four acres of fruit in Brouilly, Michel and Robert Perroud took over their father's winemaking estate in Colgny, a family tradition that goes back seven generations all the way to the French Revolution! Over time they've made a few changes to that family legacy, investing in new rootstock, planting additional varietals like chardonnay, pinot noir, and viognier, as well as making a committed effort to organic and sustainable farming, They've built upon their father's foundation and wholeheartedly managed to bring the wines into the new millennium. Their commitment to sustainability didn't end in the vineyard, however. In 2007, Michel and his wife built an energy-producing home on the estate, along with a bed and breakfast for visitors. We caught up with the brothers this past March at their winery where we tasted through their entire portfolio. While the Vieille Vignes comes from selection of older vines on the main hill, the Amethyste comes from a single plot on the southern slope that has amethyst crystal buried deep in its terroir. "There's a typicity to that site," Robert told us as we tasted. It was juicier and plumper on the palate than the Virile Vignes, with more power and bolder fruits. There's a pureness to the Perroud wines that is palpable across the line-up. It's a liveliness that to me is as invigorating as their passion for precision. 

While the Perroud brothers are Beaujolais winemakers, they're so good at what don't overlook their absolutely charming 2015 Bourgogne Rouge, a wine that honestly may be the best sub-$20 Bourgogne rouge we've ever carried. Farmed entirely organically as well and seductive on the palate, the soft red fruits almost melt in your mouth: raspberries, strawberries, cherries, and hints of baking spice on the finish. I was instantly smitten! Their fifteen dollar 2015 Bourgogne Blanc is no slouch either, rounded on the palate with baked fruits and hints of oak, but never lacking in acidity. It's rare that we find a portfolio of exciting and intricate new wines from serious producers, farmed organically, with true character of place and dynamism, let alone for under twenty bucks. The wines have just hit the warehouse and are now making their way on to the sales floor. Come meet the new king of the hill at K&L. You'll likely fall head over heels and tumble for Brouilly much like we did. 

-David Driscoll