Beaujolais is one of the most underrated wine categories out there. The commercially pumped-out Nouveau that tarnished the region’s reputation is a thing of the past. Beaujolais is looking ahead and, if you know the region and the best producers, you are in for a treat. Prices are reasonable and quality is high. If you love your red Burgundy, these wines are a no-brainer and the 2018s from Lafarge-Vial are amazing.
Before we get onto the wines from Lafarge-Vial, let’s briefly sum up what Beaujolais is all about.
Where is Beaujolais?
The region is sandwiched between Burgundy to the North, the Rhône Valley to the South-East and the city of Lyon to the South. Beaujolais stretches just 55 kilometres top-to-bottom and is only 14 kilometres wide. The ten Beaujolais Cru vineyards are all located on the Northern side of the region.
Beaujolais’ flavour is in the soil. There’s mostly granite and schist (decomposed rock) to the North and clay-based soils (marl) to the South.
What is Beaujolais?
Beaujolais as a wine region has long been considered part of Burgundy, but the high quality of some of the wines today has only reaffirmed that it stands deservedly apart. The best examples of Beaujolais cru classé wines drink a lot like red Burgundy. The grape varietal is Gamay Noir.
The Ten Crus
The wines from here make up the crème de la crème of Beaujolais. The ten crus are: Morgon, Fleurie, Juliénas, Chénas, Chiroubles, Régnié, St-Amour, Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.
In Fleurie, the vineyards are planted at a higher altitude on the steep slopes at the foot of La Madone. The wines are lighter in style, very perfumed and elegant. If unfamiliar with Beaujolais, Fleurie is the perfect place to start.
Chiroubles is also known for the more elegant, lighter style of wine. Vines grow at the highest altitudes of the region, thus making it the coolest Cru and the last to start harvest each year.
In Côte de Brouilly you will find vineyards planted on the volcanic slopes of Mount Brouilly, rendering them very distinctive with a beautiful minerality.
Image credit: Wine Folly – www.winefolly.com
In 2014, Frédéric and Chantal Lafarge of the Burgundian old guard domaine in Volnay decided to embark on a new adventure – in Beaujolais. This project is very much about both Frédéric and Chantal and to that end, something created by them together (Vial is Chantal’s maiden name).
From the outset, Frédéric and Chantal began working all acquired vineyards (2.25 hectares) biodynamically. They gradually added other vineyards to the fold and total vineyards went to up to 4.1 hectares for the 2015 vintage. One such additional acquisition was that of the high altitude, old vine plot of “Joie du Palais” in Fleurie.
In the cellar, there can be up to 25% whole-bunch depending on the vintage. Winemaking is very much Burgundian: gentle extractions and a relatively short élevage of 12 months in older barrels.
Lafarge-Vial 2018 Beaujolais Cru
6-bottle mixed case
per 6-bottle case
Chiroubles 2018 x 1 bottle
“Offering up inviting aromas of blackberries, cassis and cherries mingled with hints of licorice and grilled meats, the 2018 Chiroubles is medium to full-bodied, fleshy and charming, with a generous core of lively fruit, tangy acids and fine, powdery tannin. This characterful, classically proportioned Chiroubles is a great success.”
– 91 points | William Kelley for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate | May 2020
Fleurie 2018 x 2 bottles
“Generous and gourmand, the 2018 Fleurie bursts from the glass with aromas of ripe cherries, blackberries, rose petals and warm spices. Medium to full-bodied, it’s fleshy and enveloping but—like all the domaine’s wines—remains bright and precise despite its dark fruit tones and broad shoulders. Powdery tannins assert themselves gently on the finish.”
– 91+ points | William Kelley for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate | May 2020
Fleurie “Joie du Palais” 2018 x 1 bottle
“Beautifully vibrant and precise, the 2018 Fleurie Joie de Palais wafts from the glass with a pretty bouquet of raspberries, red plums, peonies and sweet soil tones. Medium to full-bodied, lively and elegant, it’s built around fine, powdery tannins and a tangy spine of acidity. Built for the cellar, this will show beautifully after four or five years of bottle aging, and it will continue to improve for a decade or more. This 1.5-hectare parcel of steeply sloping decomposed pink granite was planted in the 1950s.”
– 93+ points | William Kelley for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate | May 2020
Fleurie “Clos Vernay” 2018 x 1 bottle
“Aromas of cherries, raspberries and plums mingle with hints of burning embers and potpourri in a deep and complex bouquet that introduces the 2018 Fleurie Clos Vernay. Medium to full-bodied, deep and multidimensional, it’s layered and succulent, with an ample core of fruit, lively acids and powdery structuring tannins. The inherent charm and suppleness of the vintage lends this considerable appeal out of the gate, but like all the Lafarge-Vial wines, it’s really built for a bit of bottle age.”
– 94 points | William Kelley for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate | May 2020
Côte de Brouilly 2018 x 1 bottle
“Aromas of cherries, raspberries, burning embers and raw cocoa introduce the 2018 Côte de Brouilly, a medium to full-bodied, fleshy but precise wine, with lovely depth at the core, refined tannins and a long, mineral finish. This is a serious, age-worthy cru Beaujolais, even if it’s sufficiently charming to be approached young.”
– 92 points | William Kelley for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate | May 2020
The beautiful 2017s
We have a limited number of earlier vintages from Lafarge-Vial, including the beautiful 2017s and a handful of the 2016s. Please browse what is available on our website by clicking the below button.
Account Manager | WSET – Level 3
Food Pairing Suggestions
The lighter styles of Fleurie and Chiroubles mean they are great to pair with casual, charcuterie dishes with cold meats and if you fancy a change to white wine with your sushi, then these are perfect.
The more complex, fuller Côte de Brouilly will go well with heartier dishes like roast game birds, seared duck breast, steak tartare, fruity tagine recipes with dates, prunes and apricots (vegetarian or not), Bobotie, and an array of vegetarian dishes which incorporate butternut and sweet potato.