Many Beaujolais winemakers told us they could make a “fruity” wine or a “serious”, rich wine. I am sure we would all agree there are serious, rich wines that are fruity. Is the French definition of fruity different from ours?
I think some Beaujolais winemakers tie one hand behind their back before they start by this view, so perhaps they should employ outside consultants?
This visit showed what can be done and to a degree the pace here is set from outside Beaujolais. Château des Jacques is owned by Louis Jadot who aim to produce the best wines of Beaujolais. To achieve this they appointed the charming, ex cavalry Major, Guillaume de Castelnau; I could have listened to him forever and my understanding of vines and wines would have been the richer for it. Guillaume’s mantra is: “We are part of nature”, so he set about returning a natural balance to the vineyards and following biodynamic methods. His chief advisers are his bees, if they stay in it means bad weather is coming.
In the winery, they use a sorting table and all the grapes are de-stemmed. I think Gamay cries out to be de-stemmed and that is proven by the results here. They mainly crush the Gamay grapes and use partial whole berry fermentation, but no carbonic.
Guillaume does not control the fermentation temperature, merely adjusting it a degree or so. All the fermentation uses wild yeasts at temperatures of between 25º-30ºC in open top vats with pump overs twice a day and all the red wines are aged in barrel.
He gave us eight wines, three Chardonnays from the estate’s Clos de Loyse vineyard:
Château des Jacques Beaujolais-Villages Blanc Grand Clos de Loyse 2005
Elegant, creamy and leesy with soft nectarine fruit and elegant minerality.
Château des Jacques Bourgogne Blanc Clos de Loyse 2005
Rich toasty and creamy nose, the palate is smooth and balanced with great poise.
Château des Jacques Bourgogne Blanc Clos de Loyse 2000
The palate had filled out to be toasty, creamy and luscious.
Guillaume then showed two wines from Château des Lumières in Morgon, which he also manages and three from Château des Jaques including two from their Clos. Portions of the estate’s five Clos are held back for special treatment including 12 months in new oak:
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent 2005
Surprisingly fat and full with a firm stony, tufa-like finish – needs time.
Château des Lumières Morgon 2005
Bitter tapenade nose with juicy fruit on the palate – closed at present, but a very long finish.
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent Grand Clos de Rochegrés 2005
Intensely smoky, cedary nose with great weight in the mouth. Smooth and fat with a backbone of minerality, firm smooth tannins and a long finish.
Château des Lumières Morgon Côte de Py 2005
Concentrated nose; floral, black cherry and truffles. A firm palate with rich fruit, a smooth tight texture and chalky tannins. Very long.
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent Clos de La Roche 2005
Rich, savoury gamey nose. Elegant, supple and poised in the mouth with delicate fruit and a fine Burgundian feel.
This was a tremendous visit that was inspiring and it seemed to me that all their care in the vineyard, de-stemming and seemingly low yields produced some of the few wines that we tasted on the trip which had generous enough fruit to tame and balance the bitter granite taste of the terroir in the Crus and Beaujolais-Villages area. Château des Jacques was the high point of my trip to Beaujolais.