2018 Jean Foillard, Morgon “Cote du Py” Cru Beaujolais, France.
The deep colored and densely fruited 2018 Foillard Cote du Py is an absolute thriller in the glass and is really hitting its stride right now with expressive and exotic ripeness, but with great structure, elegance and clarity of detail, highlighting the vintage and the sublime talents of this superstar winemaker. Foillard is one of greats of the region and his wines rival Premier Cru and Grand Cru Burgundy and this wine is his signature bottling and always is a magical treat to behold, this wine never fails to blow minds and bring joy to the palate and this vintage does not disappoint, especially with its luxuriously opulent mouth feel and incredible length. Coming from vines that range from 10 to 90 years old and set on the granite based soils with schist and veins of manganese this gorgeous Cote du Py shows dark berries, sweet plum, black currant and strawberry fruit on the lush and ripe full bodied palate along with an array of subtle spice, dried herbs, mineral notes and heavenly florals with hints of anise, walnut, a light earthy stoniness and crushed peonies. The acidity is non aggressive, but life giving here, as in a fine Pinot Noir, and the textural grace of the semi-carbonic whole cluster fermentation is divine and satiny. This year’s version, from organic grapes with ultra low SO2 employed as per normal, is as hedonistic as it is serious, with this wines later picking making for a real impact and a heady 14.5% natural alcohol, which is much less obvious than one would imagine with this Gamay’s elegance, this is very special stuff.
Foillard, as mentioned here in prior reviews, was greatly inspired by natural wine guru Jules Chauvet, a traditionalist who led the natural wine movement in the Beaujolais and redefined the wines of the region and who wanted to go back to pre-industrial style organic farming and not use chemical additives in the cellar. Jean and three other local vignerons, Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Guy Breton joined in on this movement, this became the Gang of Four, a nickname coined by the famed importer Kermit Lynch, who brought these masterpieces of Gamay to America, along with Dutraive and others brought critical acclaim to this region that had been badly maligned for generations. Foillard took over his father’s domaine in 1980, with stellar vineyard holdings mainly in the revered Côte du Py, as Kermit Lynch notes, the famed slope outside the town of Villié-Morgon and the pride of the Morgon cru. These granite and schist soils sit on an alluvial fan at the highest point above the town and impart great complexity on these wines. Jean Foillard, who hand crafts his wines using native yeasts and using traditional 100% whole cluster with a long gentle maceration that usually lasts just over 3 weeks and raises his wines in older barrels, always well seasoned and sourced from top estates in Burgundy, including the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. This elevage of the Cote du Py in the used French barriques is between 6 to 9 months, depending on the vintage and always to preserve energy, transparency and purity, as this fabulous 2018 shows impeccably. There are so many new vignerons making fantastic wines in Beaujolais it is hard to keep up, including a new generation of Foillard, with Jean’s son Alex making his own delicious wines, but this wine is still a legend.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive