Capturing the Heart of 09 Beaujolais
2009 Vissoux Fleurie Les Garants
Ripeness, Clarity, Precision from a "Grand" Cru Fleurie
Domaine Vissoux was my first visit during my tour through Beaujolais this July, and when we discussed the vintage, owner/winemaker Pierre Chermette wasn't bashful in comparing 09 to great vintages stretching far back: 47, 49, 76...
By now word is most definitely out that, indeed, special things happened in Beaujolais in 2009. However, Pierre Chermette in particular has every reason to feel bullish about the vintage; it's one that he captured in exemplary fashion.
In many ways, Chermette's collection encapsulates the best qualities of the vintage: maddeningly concentrated, combining ample fruit with overt minerality, and yet for all its ripeness still offering plenty of clarity and precision.
Needless to say, the tasting at Vissoux went from strength to strength with each wine sampled. Picking out the star of the 09 lineup was difficult, requiring re-tastes and much concentration. Regardless, here it is: Vissoux Fleurie Les Garants.
The fact that Garants was superlative shouldn't have surprised me. Talk to any Beaujolais winemaker about Fleurie's best terroirs, and you'll hear about La Madone, Grille Midi and Garants. Vissoux's importer Peter Weygandt sums it up as: Garants is "to Fleurie what Romanée-Conti is to Vosne-Romanée."
Like Coudert's famous Clos de la Roilette, Les Garants is a part of Fleurie that, up until the appellations were redrawn, was considered part of Moulin-à-Vent. Whereas Roilette is an east-facing vineyard, Garants faces southwest and is situated at a slightly higher elevation. It's impossible to know how these differences in elevation and exposition precisely effect the Garants, but expect a bit more florality here, and an energetic spine running through the wine. This, of course, is allied with Moulin-à-Vent's grip and power.
The 09 Garants offers fresh and snappy dark berry fruits, black currant, herbs, spice, smoke, a saline-infused granite minerality, and the elusive meaty quality that one often encounters in Moulin-à-Vent. For a vintage that never seems to come up short on ripeness or richness, Vissoux's Garants delivers a unique amount of energy and bright, distinct flavors.
Chermette seems to have been perfectly in tune with the vintage. In a vintage where alcohols began to push the envelope and deciding exactly when to pick was crucial, Chermette (somewhat proudly) told me that he managed to bring in his Crus right around 13.3%. (Please note that alcohols pushing 14.5 and even 15% weren't uncommon.) The wine wears its relatively low alcohol attractively through its combined sense of palate-coating richness and invigorating nimbleness.
The Garants promises to evolve over the next five to seven years, and we wouldn't be surprised if it continued gaining nuance and complexity into its tenth birthday and beyond.
Interest in 09 Beaujolais has snowballed to proportions that we couldn't even imagine when we sent out our first offer in early July. These wines are simply getting snapped up with alarming speed. If you're interested, please reply as soon as possible with your maximum order, and we'll allocate accordingly.
To order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
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