September 2021 France Trip Part Three - Beaujolais! Robin Goutallier, Romaine Des Grottes, Victor Blondin.

Posted by Joel Wright on

Our trip through Beaujolais continued with our first visit to see Robin Goutallier up in the hills of Quincié-en-Beaujolais. Only 50 minutes from Raphael, but such a different landscape, at 400m altitude, surrounded by mountains, it is a quite breathtaking view. It's very obvious why Robin chose this place to move from the city, back in 2015. He semi-retired and now works part time as a teacher, using his spare time to make wine, honey and look after his incredibly beautiful vegetable garden, geese and two cows. 

Another pull to this beautiful place was the the vineyard right behind his house, the fruit of which makes up, the cuvée,  Y’a Plus Qui De La Pomme. On a steep incline, at about 400m altitude, vines around 80 years old are planted on soils heavy in clay and limestone rock. Among the vines grow wild strawberries, wild plants and plenty of a specific Beaujolais grass which grows low, not competing too much and is a sign of great soil health. It only appeared after Robin had taken on the parcel, working of course without pesticides. 

Displaying incredible agility Robin scampered among the vines like a mountain goat and we could barely keep up. The view from the vines was spectacular and as many producers did - Robin mentioned this as one of the joys of working the vines, his 'office' view was pretty incredible!

At the moment he makes wine at the facility of Gerard Belaid another great vigneron in the region, but has some tanks in what is basically a garage under his house. We tasted the 60% De Velours 2020 in tank which is slowly finishing it's sugars. it has similar soft lush texture to the 2019 with less alcohol, delicious! We also tasted a bottle of the 2018 Y’a Plus Qui De La Pomme which was showing beautifully after a couple of years in bottle with remarkable finesse. 

We then visited the vineyard for his wine 60% De Velours which is a short drive away on the road towards Marchampt. The vineyard is rich in the pierres bleu blue/grey stones of granitic limestone. Vines are younger here, around 40 years old. 

This vineyard is at a similar altitude to his other parcel, slightly higher in fact and the vineyard above it, which Robin takes on next year is pushing 500m altitude. He plans to use this to make a petillant. Robin seems a very grounded person, meticulous in his work, but so enthused and passionate too. 

Robin has been helped by local producers like Herve Ravera and Romain Des Grottes, though stylistically his wines are more towards Herve's. Ravera is based in the Marchampt very close to this parcel. The wines are already very polished and it'll be a joy to follow his progress over the next few years. 

 

Thank you Robin!

Our next stop was to see Romain Des Grottes, one of the most genial and lovely people you will ever meet And always a real pleasure to visit. After a difficult problem with fermentation in 2020, leading to no Brut De Cuve and the birth of his apple/grape hybrid Sideration, he is confident of an easier 2021, even if he is about 50% yield with the myriad of problems that occurred this year, like mildew. 

Romain was already finished with harvest, he always picks earlier than most in the area, favouring acidity and freshness in his high energy, angular wines. His pickers often start the season here and end up at Michel Guignier's place!

So after the intense time of harvest, he was a little under the weather - we later established it wasn't Covid thankfully. But from a distance we tasted a fermenting tank of Brut De Cuve 2021, his new white wine made from hybrid varieties including Souvignier Gris & Muscaris (intensely tropical), a hopped cider he made this year and a wine he has made with his own juice and that of Benoit Camus, 

Antidote 2021 is also in process and we hope to ship some towards the end of October, along with his 2021 Petit Coin De Paradis, a 6% Sparkling off dry rose that is perfect for Christmas morning. 

The wild vines at Domaine Des Grottes are allowed to express themselves..

Here is the dynamizer for Romain's biodynamic treatments. 

Secaturs finished with for a little while. 

Bojalien wine fair has been held here a couple of times. It may be in the Ardèche next year, Thanks Romain!

 

Our next and final stop was a quick check in with Victor Blondin who makes electric, light, fresh gamay under the name Domaine De La Gapette. Victor has had a very tough year in 2021 and this tank of Jonchere below was barely a third full and represents all of that years harvest for this wine.

He had slightly more fruit on his small parcel of Chardonnay, but to make a living, will have to buy fruit in 2021 for the first time. He has found some gamay, on similar terroir, from a neighbouring village, grown organically of course. He may use the Jonchere already picked as a pied de cuve to keep some of the character of his vineyard in the wine. Victor was still positive but it’s clearly been a very difficult year for him and it must be so difficult to work so hard in your parcels all year and be rewarded with virtually nothing. He works with very old vines and these are harder to work with lower yields and will perhaps try and supplement this with a younger more vigorous parcel in the future. 

A sobering visit that shows the realities a bad year like 2021 can have on producers. Unfortunately we saw more of this in the Loire, where we headed next - more in our next post.