2014 Jean Claude Lapalu Brouilly Cuvee Des FousGamay from France
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"Jean-Claude Lapalu assumed control of just under 30 acres of Gamay from his father in 1996, and made his first commercial wines in 2000. His eight parcels of east and southeas...
- 92-94 Neal Martin - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
- 93 Josh Raynolds - Vinous Media
92-94 Neal Martin - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
"The 2014 Brouilly Cuvée des Fous is made from 100% de-stemmed grapes from the oldest vines the domaine planted in 1900. It has a more introspective bouquet compared to the Côte de Brouilly, with blackberry and briary fruit, limestone and even flinty notes – a compelling set of aromatics. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin surrounded by a core of very pure dark berry fruit. The symmetry here is compelling, and its superb length feels both harmonious and full of tension. This is just a fabulous Brouilly from Jean-Claude.
With my flight back to London not until the early evening, I found myself with an hour or two to spare, an hour or two that had to be filled, lest I spend an hour or two twiddling my thumbs in the dull-as-dishwater Easyjet terminal at Lyon Airport. A quick telephone call and I was driving to meet one of Beaujolais’ most revered winemakers, Jean-Claude Lapalu. He is one of the most revered winemakers, friendly right from the first handshake, eagerly pouring me his latest releases either from bottle or darting back and forth from barrel to barrel. He’s an energetic, chatty winemaker, one who is also candid. At one point he is rather dismissive of his own attempt at an Amarone-style Beaujolais!
The family’s roots go back a few decades, both his parents and grandparents farming these same vines but, as was normal, selling the fruit to the local co-operative. He did that himself between 1982 and 1995, when he made the decision to start bottling at least part of his production. One senses a perpetual inquisitiveness in Jean-Claude that is quite infectious, a personality trait that was there from the beginning. He’s a person willing to try new things, never accept orthodox practices as the best way. That drove him to gradually move towards natural winemaking, which he is synonymous with today. A bit like Mathieu Lapierre, he is not dogmatic or militant against the use of sulfur, but it is clear that he makes great wines without it. So why use it?
“The 2014 vintage was easy compared to 2012 and 2013,” he told me with the faintest of grins. “It was the easiest to vinify. It is more difficult to vinify when there is a lot of sunshine during a season. We cropped at around 40 to 42 hectoliters per hectare on average.”
Jean-Claude oversees a fascinating and diverse portfolio – there’s nearly something for everyone here. For myself, the Brouilly Cuvée des Fous is a wine that can rivet you to the spot, from vines planted in 1900 and the fruit fully destemmed. There was a wonderful symmetry in this wine, a tightly coiled energy that is from start to finish. This contrasts nicely with perhaps his best known label, the Brouilly la Croix de Rameaux, which is 20% de-stemmed and undergoes less pigeage – a little richer and supple in the mouth, it is a wine that can age with real style. The Côte de Brouilly is also highly recommended, the terroir of limestone and clay soils (a killer combination) expressed wonderfully through the medium we know as Gamay. Of course, it was difficult to ignore the amphorae. To think – some people still consider Beaujolais to be just Nouveau! He de-stems the grapes destined for clay and fills the amphorae manually (using a technical contraption known as a “bucket”), leaving them for several weeks and completing maturation without any sulfur. Despite this, he has never encountered any problem with oxidation. Jean-Claude’s style of winemaking delivers wines that are packed full of fruit, but with just as much intrigue and unpredictability. I don’t mean that in a negative sense. Just that this is natural winemaking – thoughtfully practiced yet unafraid to push the envelope. And in a sense, this is the impetus for the Beaujolais renaissance that is taking place, winemakers upholding tradition but thinking outside the box."
93 Josh Raynolds - Vinous Media
"Youthful violet. An explosively perfumed bouquet evokes fresh red and blue fruits, Asian spices and floral oils, along with a smoky mineral nuance that builds in the glass. Sweet, pure and penetrating, offering concentrated yet lithe, spice-inflected black raspberry and boysenberry flavors that stain the palate. The mineral note comes back strong on an impressively long, sappy finish that's given shape by silky, even tannins."
"Jean-Claude Lapalu assumed control of just under 30 acres of Gamay from his father in 1996, and made his first commercial wines in 2000. His eight parcels of east and southeast facing vines are scattered from Mont Brouilly south through the rolling hills of Odenas and his hometown of Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne.
Jean-Claude’s most significant early influence came from the writings of Jules Chauvet, France’s Father of Natural Winemaking. Like his bon copain Matthieu Barret in Cornas (Domaine du Coulet), Jean-Claude is committed to a strict biodynamic regimen. The domaine received its organic certification from Ecocert with the 2010 vintage and Jean-Claude is in the process of gaining the Biodyvin seal of approval.
Jean-Claude produces small lots of six distinct Gamays, each expressing different aspects of the Haut-Beaujolais’ diverse geology. Domaine Lapalu made its debut in La Revue du Vin’s annual Classement des Meilleurs Vins de France (Best Wines of France) in 2009. La Revue’s tasting panel writes, “We were seduced by the quality of his wines…We salute the pursuit of maturity and concentration, which inevitably requires effort in limiting yields and taking risks in pushing the date of harvest (translation).” -Importer
92-94 - Neal Martin - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
93 - Josh Raynolds - Vinous Media
|Features||Organic and Biodynamic|
|Taste||cherry, strawberry and raspberry|
|Nose||violet, rose petal, oak, smoke and mushroom|