2018 Domaine M. & C. Lapierre, Morgon, Cru Beaujolais (Cuvee S), France.
The 2018 version of the classic Lapierre Morgon is sleek and higher toned than the prior vintage and remains excitingly fresh and vibrant throughout with bright cherry, plum, dark berry and strawberry leading the way along with tangy tart cranberry and whole cluster spiciness with hints of earth, zesty acidity that cleanses the medium bodied palate and a touch of walnut and lingering violets. This dark ruby Gamay turns on the more subtle charms with air, it certainly is less exuberant than some vintages, but absolutely lovable and it drinks wonderfully at this stage and will do so for many years to come. As noted in my reviews and by importer Kermit Lynch, Mathieu and his sister Camille have continuied their father, the legandary Marcel Lapierre’s traditions and the faithful following of Jules Chauvet’s natural wine practices in their effort to make one of the world’s best Gamay wines. Domaine Lapierre was always organic, but the sister and brother team of Mathieu and Camille have converted it to all biodynamic and have added a few new wines to the mix in recent years. The much admired Marcel Lapierre took over the family domaine from his father in 1973, and according to Kermit Lynch, who introduced these great Lapierre wines to America, he was already on the road to becoming a legend, but In 1981, his path would be forever changed by Jules Chauvet, who would influence him to make natural style wines that better displayed terroir and the distinction of the grape. Chauvet, again as I have noted many times, was a winemaker, a researcher, a chemist, and a viticultural prophet, in much the same way Nicholas Joly was with biodynamics in the Loire Valley. It was he who, first spoke out for “natural wine,” harkening back to the traditional methods of the Beaujolais, and winning followers throughout the Burgundy and Beaujolais regions. Chauvet heavily influenced generations in Beaujolais such as neighbors like Foillard, Thevenet, Breton and more recently Julien Sunier, just to name a few.
This 2018 Morgon by M & C Lapierre comes from almost 50 year old vines set on decomposed granite soils, which adds to the delicate mineral tone and sharp detailing, with the grapes being picked at the latest possible moment, again Kermit notes that Lapierre tries to obtain the ripest fruit, which is a trademark of the estate style. Using almost zero sulfur in most of their cuvees, this one saw just a tiny dose at bottling for added security and stability for shipping. While still having intensity of form, vigor and acid driven energy, these Lapierre wines are supple and forward with exceptional purity of fruit. Mathieu Lapierre, like his dad, employs 100% whole cluster natural or spontaneous fermentation, as Kermit Lynch explains, this à l’ancienne method uses only native or indigenous yeasts, with primary (fermentation) mostly done in conical wood tanks, with careful low temperatures. The Lapierre’s age their wines on fine lees for at least nine months in oak, which are a combination of ex-Burgundy barrels, and neutral large oak foudres and fûts ranging from three to thirteen years old. This vintage, 2018, is showing a higher tone, but is expansive once it gets going and is very enjoyable, especially with a slight chill and paired with simple foods. The Lapierre Morgon gains in every detail and textural presence with each sip, making for a very quaffable Gamay. Cru Beaujolais producers are riding a big wave of success and have captured a serious niche in the wine world, especially with a whole new generation of Gamay fans, with Lapierre being one of the most admired and sought after, setting a high bar of drinking pleasure. I should note, there are two versions of this basic Morgon, the cuvee N, with no sulfur added or Sans Soufre, and this cuvee S, with that small edition of sulfur, which this bottle is, and there is just a minimum of difference between the two, with the cuvee N, a Kermit Lynch exclusive, maybe a touch more expressive on release. I highly recommend exploring Lapierre’s full range of wines and in particular the Cuvee Marcel, Cuvee Camille and this Morgon bottling.
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive