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When Is a Burgundy Not a Burgundy?

Frédéric Lafarge in the hobbit hole
Our first foray into the 2015 Burgundy vintage is hardly a burgundy at all, yet the hand that made these wines belongs to one of the most celebrated of all Côte d'Or wine producers.

Beaujolais is included in the greater Burgundy area, yet in wine terms it's a very different sort of thing. Rather than the clay/limestone mix of soils so familiar to the producers of fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay further north in the Côtes de Nuits and Beaune, Beaujolais vines are planted on austere granite soils; plus, of course, we are in the land of Gamay here: a variety that was outlawed in the Côte d'Or in July 1395 by Philip the Bold.

Beaujolais is now experiencing an extraordinary renaissance. Wines are being made in a much more serious way and the best will age beautifully. And the region is attracting some very big names: producers from elsewhere intent on buying up land that is - at least for the time being - rather cheaper than the hallowed soils of Burgundy "proper".

Tasting at the Domaine Lafarge in Volnay makes for a semi-spiritual experience. The cellar is impossibly small and low, the walls so smothered in mould one would almost believe they were constructed of cheese rind. Yet in the Domaine Lafarge's Volnays one finds some of the finest, most ravishing wines of the 2015 vintage (of any vintage, for that matter). And the Beaujolais wines weren't so far behind...

2015 Fleurie Joie du Palais, Domaine Lafarge-Vial
£138 in bond per 6  Drink 2019-25

N.B The vineyard is very steep. 50% is worked by horse. Soils are rose granite.
Nose is dense and beautiful, of red and crystallised blue fruits with hints of roses. The palate is cool and rich and full of mineral structure. Very direct wine that gathers itself into a great mineral thrust. Energetic; very, very long. Great vim and purpose here.

2015 Fleurie Clos Vernay, Domaine Lafarge-Vial
£144 in bond per 6  Drink 2019-26

Lots of quartz present in the soils here. 25% whole bunch fermentation.
Dried flowers appear in this pretty nose. Aromas are of crisp red fruit with a hint of voilet. The palate is cool and red and with high grip. Something really aristocratic to this wine's purity. A complete and linear wine to taste; direct and very firmly mineral. It becomes very spicy later on. Wow. Extra!


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