Lapierre Morgon 2009

Posted by CrushWine

Burgundy Collectors Take Notice
2009 Lapierre Morgon
Superb Ripeness, Density, Extract, Elegance...

Last winter there were rumblings that something very special had happened in Beaujolais with the 2009 vintage. We've seen stellar Beaujolais vintages in 99, 02 and 05, but these were not the vintages growers were citing. It was 1947 and 1991.

Yes, something extraordinary happened in Beaujolais in 2009.

The reports focused on perfect weather at harvest, high levels of ripeness and thick-skinned, unusually small grapes dense with extract. The lack of rain in July and
August reduced yields to as low as 30hl/ha, increasing the natural concentrations even more.

What we have in 2009 are deep, majestic Beaujolais that combine grandeur with elegance, wines rich in tannins, round, with velvety textures and seductive turns.

This is a massive vintage that will almost certainly stand with the greats, though these wines will likely take 5, 10, 20+ years to reach peak expression. (Yes, these are wines to cellar, more on that below.)

Today we begin our 2009 Beaujolais program with the benchmark producer of Morgon, the elder statesman of Kermit Lynch's "Gang of Four": Marcel Lapierre. While there are bigger Beaujolais out there, simply nobody matches the purity and elegance attained by Lapierre. His Morgon may be as luminescent, as absolutely crystal clear as red wine ever gets.

At under $20/bottle on the 6-pack purchase, this is a terroir-driven red that can rival village-level red Burgundy at about half the price.

Indeed, from our vantage point, real Cru Beaujolais is at the tipping point. While the top wines have been sought out by wine geeks for years, this spring has marked the first time we've received so many inquires from top Burgundy collectors who seem to have 2009 Beaujolais on their radars along with the impending 2009 red Burgs.

And this shouldn't be too surprising really; both Burgundy and Beaujolais produce red wines more about finesse and site specificity than power and alcohol. They also, generally speaking, tend to share vintage characteristics - a great year in Burgundy is very often a great year in Beaujolais.

In this manner, 2009 is the first age-worthy vintage to come along since the stellar 2005s. In fact, with the possible exception of 2005, I can't think of a Lapierre where you'd be so well advised to cellar as much as you can. (To provide some context, myself, Stephen, Ian and Bobby are all taking cases for ourselves.)

The 2009 certainly displays Lapierre's signature clarity, but it also delivers an extra dimension of complexity and concentration - more so than perhaps we've ever seen before with Lapierre. The fruits are darker than many other vintages of the wine delivering plum and berry fruit compared to the usual cherry. With air, a wild strawberry perfume surfaces along with scents of crushed dried rose petals, pungent spices and  forest floor notes.

For all its ripeness, there is an overt spine of granite minerality and plenty of freshness to maintain the agility that Beaujolais, especially from the hand of Lapierre, delivers.

The sheer harmony of Lapierre's wines typically make them good mid-term agers, yet the 2009 seems more proportioned for the long-haul. A 2002 Lapierre drunk a couple years ago showed no signs of fading; it had grown silken and picked up more earthy complexity - it seemed almost Chambolle-like. In Beaujolais, locals would says that it had begun pinotise, when Gamay starts showing characteristics of Pinot Noir.

When you read older books, like Curnonsky's Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France, you always read that Beaujolais is a wine to drink young except in exceptional vintages. The potential for aging with the 2009 Lapierre is hard to estimate, though it's likely longer than you think - a decade is a safe bet. Just last year we opened up at the store a 1964 Morgon that was simply gorgeous, still very fresh and floral - Asimov wrote on his blog about a bottle of 1929 Moulin a Vent that was still drinking.

For those of you familiar with great Beaujolais, it's time to clear a lot of room in the cellar. For everyone else, we can't recommend these beautiful wines enough. While the region has languished unfairly under the stigma of mass-produced commercial plonk, the true growers, like Lapierre, have worked hard to create wines of purity  and elegance.

Although the spotlight is soon going to find Beaujolais, for the moment it still remains the land of ageworthy, terroir-driven red wine VALUES. Few red wines of this authenticity even come close...

To place your order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

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