Update from Europe 2018 | Sancerre & Beaujolais

Fesq & Company's manager of European wines, Julia Weirich, meets each year with our partnered wineries from Sancerre & Beaujolais  - Domaine Claude Riffault, La Clef du Récit in Sancerre, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, Domaine du Chateau du Grand Pré in Beaujolais.

These notes are a brief overview of the visits in May 2018.

A brief word on recent Sancerre vintages. The 2017 vintage, due to arrive later this year, is another frost affected vintage from France. But, those who navigated the spring were rewarded with a warm summer and powerful, forward wines.

Domaine Claude Riffault is run by Claude’s son, Stéphane, who studied in Burgundy, (his brother runs Domaine Sauzet), and is very much a Burgundy-meets-Sancerre proposition.

His vineyards are on the northern end of Sancerre, with holdings on soft limestone soil (Terres Blanches), with other parcels on calliottes and silex. Hand harvested and sorted. He ferments and raises all of his wine in oak, about 15% new, with no racking before gravity fed bottling, according to the descending moon. These are amongst the most concentrated and serious wines you can find in Sancerre; worthy of cellaring.

"Make no mistake: this address in the hamlet of Maison Salle (outside Sury-en-Vaux) is now one of the five or six most exciting estates in the Sancerre appellation.” – David Schildknect.

La Clef du Récit is a different and essentially more approachable Sancerre. Anthony’s eight hectares in the hamlet of Récy are also farmed organically, like Riffault, but his planting’s are more caillottes based, creating a style that is more in line the with traditional expectation of Sancerre, forward and fruity.

A brief word on recent Beaujolais vintages. - The 2016 wines, of which some are still available, are a fine, quality range of wines. Despite being hit again by frost, the 2016 wines are not as "big" as the 2015 wines, and a little finer than the upcoming 2017s. Both are considered good to very good vintages.

Beaujolais is a region of icons and nicknames, intertwined in history, family and anecdotes. Even in this view, few names are as highly regarded as Thévenet. Jean-Paul and his son Charly farm their ancient four hectare block in Morgon, creating the single offering Morgon Vieilles Vignes.

We will also have Charly’s solo project Regnie coming from 2017.

Domaine Chateau du Grand Pré is another family affair, helmed by the third generation of the Zordan family, Romain. They organically farm a family estate of eight hectares across the crus of Fleurie and Morgon with an average vine age of 60+ years.

Besides the more generic Beaujolais AOC, Domaine Château de Grand Pré bottles Fleurie, Morgon and Brouilly Crus. Romain is a big advocate of Jules Chauvet and you can absolutely taste this tendency in his wines. The grapes are handpicked before the whole bunches undergo semi-carbonic maceration for 15-20 days at very low temperatures. Throughout the process the natural ferment is being left alone, no remonatge or pigeage are taking place. They are bottled with no filtration and minimal sulfur.

 The 2017 vintage releases are scheduled to arrive later this year.