2018 Domaine Jean Foillard, Fleurie, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The fresh and lively 2018 Fleurie from Jean Foillard is a very pretty and delicate wine of great class and character, but less fruit forward than the 2015, which was the last vintage I reviewed, and 2009, which really were mind-blowing wines, though this one will sneak up on you, with air it really comes alive with vivid layers, smooth textures and beautiful floral details. The fruit is bright and tangy, highlighting the vintage and the Gamay’s inner nature, pushed up by the wine’s natural acidity and mineral tones with tart plum, strawberry, currant and red peach all revolving on the medium bodied palate along with crunchy herbs, anise, a bit of lilac and rose petal, as well as a touch of dark walnut. The color is a warm ruby and garnet at its core, very alluring in the glass and the bouquet is a bit more expressive that the Morgon bottling, for which Foillard is much more famous for, but this wine always seems a tad more elegant, where as those Morgon’s are more dense and have more of a gripping presence. Jean Foillard, who took over his father’s domaine in 1980, is a legendary Cru Beaujolais producer and, as mentioned, famous for his stylish wines from his vineyards in Morgon’s famous Côte du Py, the prestigious slope outside the town of Villié-Morgon, but he also has this tiny parcel in Fleurie that makes for maybe his most exotic and perfumed bottling, as this one is beginning to show, and it should evolve nicely over the next 3 to 5 years and last at least another decade.

The Foillard Fleurie is made exclusively from a single hectare and sourced from two lieux-dits, Grille-Midi and Champagne (where top Dutraive’s, the king of Fleurie has his best parcels), of organic 20 to 70 years old vines set on the mentioned pink granite and sandstone that give this Cru its unique personality and heightened perfumed character. Made using whole cluster and native yeasts, the Fleurie macerates and ferments for about a month before being pressed to used Burgundy barrels for close to 9 months. Foillard also choses to hold back his Fleurie in the cellar, in bottle for an extra year, so when his Cote du Py, his signature wine comes out the very limited production Fleurie is on the previous vintage, making it always a touch more polished and elegant on release. As I have mentioned in prior reviews and noted by Kermit Lynch, the famous importer that brought great Cru Beaujolais to America’s attention, Foillard was greatly inspired by natural wine guru Jules Chauvet, a traditionalist who defied everything that the more commercial brands were touting in the region and wanted to go back to pre-industrial organic farming and not use chemical additives in the cellar. Jean and three other local vignerons, Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Guy Breton, soon joined in on the movement, this became the Gang of Four, who along with Dutraive, brought fame to this region that at the time had lost its reputation and was known more for generic wines at the time. These days, there is a generational change happening with great potential already on display by Jean’s son Alex, as well as Matthieu Lapierre, Charly Thevenet and Justin Dutraive all being impressive talents in their own right.
($50 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

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