2020 Jean-Louis Dutraive – Domaine de la Grand”Cour, Fleurie “Clos de la Grand’Cour” Cru Beaujolais, France.
One of my favorite wines, when I get my hands on it, is this Domaine de la Grand’Cour Fleurie Cru Beaujolais from the Gamay maestros, Jean-Louis Dutraive, who like Jean Foillard and the late Marcel Lapierre employ 100% whole-cluster fermentation and natural winemaking methods, with Dutraive’s wines having incredible (perfumed) aromatics and length, as this brilliant 2020 shows. Brilliant clarity, inner brightness and pure Gamay quality, there’s dark almost violet like nose here and seamless layers of plum, strawberry and black cherry fruits, along with flinty mineral, red spices, tangy herbs and a hint of walnut and sweet framboise. Jean-Louis Dutraive is one of the legends of Beaujolais region and his Fleurie wines are some of the best Gamay you’ll ever taste, and this ripe 2020 Clos de la Grand’Cour is no exception! All of Jean-Louis’ wines are made with whole clusters, zero extraction and natural fermentations. They are made from a combination of nearly perfect farming and zen-like observation. The elevage (aging) of this wine is 40% in classic foudre and 60% in futs de chene or large cask. The commitment to perfection and passion put into the Dutraive wines starts in the vineyards and with the holistic, almost zen like approach to their vines, everything has been converted to organics and using many biodynamic practices that has paid off in the delicious and heightened flavors in the wines. The Dutraive family have adopted the approach espoused by Jules Chauvet, who railed against industrial farming and inspired the top Beaujolais producers to embrace old traditional and natural methods from the vines to bottle, which led to these wines being some of the most sought after in the world.

The Clos de la Grand’Cour (or Grand Coeur) parcel is part of Dutraive’s historic estate located on a true plateau in Fleurie with mineral rich acidic soil that is nearly 100% decomposed granite. The vines of Dutraive, as the winery notes, are just a short walk from the town center, which sits around 300 meters up, in a good spot to catch cooling breezes. The climate of Beaujolais is semi-continental and is warmer than the rest of Burgundy, In fact, it is notably one of the warmest places in France during the summer months, which suits the high acid Gamay grape. Though, again as the winery explains, thankfully, they are on the eastern foothills of the Massif Central which helps the vineyards cool down at night following those hot days, which allows for the remarkable elegance and pleasure in these wines. The Clos de la Grand’Cour is the largest bottling on from Dutraive’s famous estate, making up more than a third of the production here under the Grand’Cour label. Funny enough, even at over 40 years of average age, Jean-Louis considers these his young vines and bottles them separately from the really old parcels, like his Le Clos Vieilles Vignes. Dutraive’s importer, The Source says this Clos de la Grand’Cour Fleurie bottling is the only wine in the range that spends time in old large foudre in addition to concrete. This elevage, they add, slowly softens the piercing aromas into a wine that has a little more rustic and sauvage (but clean!) character, maybe a little more than the rest of the wines. I agree that It is a beauty and is always a bit underrated in Dutraive’s brilliantly expressive efforts, which is okay, as it is usually the one cuvée I can most easily find. Now with his talented son Justin working with him and doing his label too, Jean-Louis and the Family Dutraive are well prepared for the generational transition and there is the promise of great things to come in the future.
($48 ESt.) 94 Points, grapelive

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