2021 Alex Foillard, Beaujolas-Villages, France.
Stepping out from behind his famous father’s shadow couldn’t have been easy, but Alex Foillard is now well on the way to be a star in the region in his own right, and wines like this 2021 Beaujolais-Villages from a unique 70 year old lieu-dit with sand and limestone soils is proof of the talent this young vigneron has! This wine, 100% old vine Gamay Noir starts with a smoky/stemmy intensity and builds on the medium bodied palate with a slow burn of unfolding layers of black plum, cherry and raspberry fruits along with roasted herbs, a mineral crunchiness, chalky stony notes, dark florals, ripe tannin(s) and dusty spices. Though old school, traditionally made with carbonic maceration and cement tank fermentation and aging, it is not overtly fruity or Gamay obvious at first, though with air and time in the glass this dark ruby hued and sultry beauty checks all the Gamay boxes and impresses for the thrill ride on offer, especially at this stage. For a humbly labeled Beaujolais-Villages, you are getting a very engaging, silky and complex wine that has a perfect balance between fruit density and whole cluster tension. This wine is sourced from an East-facing parcel located in the lieu-dit Saint Ennemond and saw its fermentation in a sealed concrete tank for 10 days, with a pump-over every couple of days, after which it was aged in the cement vats for just about 5 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered with only a micro dose of sulfur, preserving freshness of detail and loads of energy.
Alex Foillard, the son of importer Kermit Lynch’s “Gang of Four” Morgon producer Jean Foillard, Alex had early exposure to the world of wine, and as Kermit notes, more specifically, to the principles of sustainable farming and low-intervention winemaking that brought his father Jean to stardom in natural wine circles, along with like-minded neighbors such as Marcel Lapierre, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet. These producers followed the ideas of Jules Chauvet, a chemist, who brought home the passion to move away from industrial farming, chemicals and mass production short cuts, in the 1950s. He taught and spoke instead to do things the old organic way and hand craft wines with natural methods, including 100% whole cluster, carbonic maceration with indigenous yeasts and ultra low, or no sulphites. Alex himself, as Kermit again notes, studied agriculture at the Lycée Agricole in Montpellier, then earned a degree in viticulture and enology in Beaune, while simultaneously interning at a well-respected domaine in Nuits-Saint-Georges. He also, in his youth, did internships abroad, including a stint in Australia, which all added up to some great experiences to bring home to the family business, where he became more and more involved, and only twenty-four years old, he purchased his very own vineyards. He bought a hectare each in the crus of Brouilly and Côte-de-Brouilly, as well as following up with the parcel of old vine Gamay that forms the heart of this wine, making his own label bottlings first in 2016. I love all of the Foillard’s offerings and am excited that the new generation here is doing such exceptional stuff!
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive