2018 Jean-Louis Dutraive – Domaine de la Grand’Cour, Fleurie Cru Beaujolais, Lieu-Dit “Chapelle des Bois” France.
One of Gamay’s biggest stars, Jean-Louis Dutraive in Fleurie makes some of the most distinct and terroir driven wines in the world, especially his single parcel wines like this beautiful varietal example from the Chapelle des Bois Lieu-Dit with its subtle earthy dimension, bright strawberry fruit and vivid floral tones. This light dusty ruby hued Fleurie starts slowly and gracefully builds on the palate with Burgundy like silken mouth feel showing the mentioned strawberry flavor along with tangy cherry, plum and tart red currant fruits, a bit of ground baking spices, cedar, dried herbs and rose oil. These 2018s deliver a fine delicacy that the 2016 and 2017 lacked, being warmer and more concentrated, which was not unwelcome, but the lighter and vibrant details in this one make it a wine that forces your attention and focus to heighten and Dutraive’s intriguing sense of exotic elements comes through. Initially I was mildly impressed with this 2018 Chapelle des Bois, though once the wine opened up and its true natural got reed up I became more and more thrilled, the aromatics really heightened the experience, something that always Dutraive almost always does as well as anyone if not better. The primary fermentation for the Fleurie Chapelle des Bois was as per normal all whole bunches in concrete vats to express the purity of fruit and give texture, the stems cut the carbonic fruitiness and adds structure, making for a Cru Beaujolais that can be aged, I imagine a couple of decades of lovely drinking pleasures.

The Dutraive’s purchased the Domaine de la Grand’Cour back in 1969, a celebrated estate and one of the oldest domaines in Fleurie an area that has been long revered, in fact Raj Parr, the famous sommelier, has mentioned that at one point the wines of Fleurie were more expensive than Chambertin Grand Cru Burgundy! The Domaine de la Grand’Cour is divided between three outstanding unique sites, including the famed Grand’Cour, Chapelle des Bois, pure granite with pink veins, where this wine comes from, and the Champagne cru, who’s name means “campagne” or countryside in local dialect, and interesting the use of the name predates the famous sparkling wine. The estate also has excellent plots in Cru Brouilly that have been in the family for five generations. Jean-Louis Dutraive, the man behind the stardom of this winery, joined his father in in making the family’s wines 1977 and took over the domaine in 1989, has focused on organic farming since he took over with certification coming in 2009 following the natural principles of the famed Jules Chauvet, who also influenced Lapierre, Foillard and Sunier to name just a few. Dutraive makes vins de terroir wines using the same methods of winemaking for each of his cuvées to allow the place to shine, he employs whole-cluster carbonic fermentation without any added sulfur, native yeast and no intervention in the process, as well as aging the wines between 6 to 8 months in well used barrels or in this case larger oak foudres. If you want to explore the very best in Gamay, Dutraive is a must and this would be a wine to find, though I would always suggest getting their rare Clos de la Grand’Cour monopole bottling, one of the greats of the wine world!
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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