2020 Domaine Jean Foillard, Morgon “Cuvée Corcelette” Cru Beaujolais, France.
The 2020 vintage is turning out to be close in style to the legendary 2009 vintage, which as the time was one of the greatest for Cru Beaujolais in our generation with this exotic Foillard Cuvée Corcelette Morgon showing incredible opulence of fruit, perfume and length. The ripe flavors feel luxurious on the medium bodied palate with layers of blackberry, plum, pomegranate and sweet cherry fruits, along with pretty violets, walnut oil, anise, a light savory whole cluster and stem note and a sultry earthiness. The acidity is there, but well hidden in the background, as are the tannins which are satiny, making for a very textural Gamay. As I’ve stated many, many times here in my reviews of Cru Beaujolais, Foillard’s Morgon(s) are masterpieces and drink on par with much more expensive Burgundy wines, as this vintage of his Cuvée Corcelette does with a flamboyant air. This is wine takes the once unheralded and less loved Gamay grape to new heights of pleasure and pays a great tribute to the legendary Jules Chauvet, who influenced Foillard and many others, and who sought to bring traditional natural wine growing and winemaking back to this region generations ago. For this Cuvée Corcelette Foillard employs his traditional, whole cluster fermentation that usually lasts (on the skins) for close to three, sometimes four weeks before gentle pressing and racking to cask where the Gamay is matured for between 6-9 months, depending on the vintage, in a mix of used old oak barrels, ex-Burgundy and one big 30-hectoliter foudre.

Jean Foillard took over his family’s domaine in 1980 and quickly gained a reputation for making exotically beautiful Gamay, mostly from old vines higher up in the Morgon zone and especially in the Cote du Py with vines that are around 90 years old and have Schist, the classic Granite and Manganese, all of which make for a special terroir. Jean began, early on in his career, to follow the teachings of Jules Chauvet, a traditionalist who, as famed importer Kermit Lynch says, defied everything that the more commercial brands were touting in the region at the time. Foillard along with three other local vignerons, Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Guy Breton, also joined in on this natural wine movement, long before the modern evolution of the term. This Gang of Four, as famous importer Kermit Lynch christened them, set about a return to the old practices of organic viticulture and vinification, as the mentioned Jules Chauvet championed, which called whole cluster and indigenous yeast fermentation, though starting with the use of small yielding old vines, never using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late with the healthiest grapes and adding only minimal doses of sulfur dioxide or none at all. Such was the success of these guys, that now that seems pretty normal and even better these wines age majestically and are highly coveted by collectors. In modern times, we are seeing the next generation emerge, with Foillard’s son Alex, already a star, making some fantastic wines, along with the likes of the Lapierre, Thevenet and Dutraive kids that have taken over responsibility of their family’s domaines, making for lots of excitement here in Beaujolais, and wines like this deep garnet pure Gamay sets a high bar.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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