Domaine de la Beche Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2020
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This youthful Morgon has tons of sour-cherry fruit, but also structure on the rather sleek and focused palate, which should enable it to develop for some years in the bottle. Quite some dried-herb complexity and a touch of leather. Well-crafted tannins at the long, moderately dry finish.
Domaine de la Bêche was founded in 1848. Olivier Depardon, the family’s 7th generation, took the reins in 1985 with 4 acres of vines and has increased it to 65 acres. Most are in AOP Morgon, followed by Regnié and then Beaujolais-Villages.
In 2003 he made the decision to de-stem all the fruit and stop working with whole clusters (but retaining whole berries, thus gentle ferments with a semi-carbonic result), but he still uses the 5,000 and 6,000-liter foudres that his father and grandfather used to age the Morgon VV and Côte du Py. All fermentations continue to be spontaneous.
The domain is unique in the appellation for having vines in all six of Morgon’s climats. They are Les Charmes, Côte du Py, Corcellette, Douby, Grand Cras, and Micouds, and grapes from each go into the Morgon Vieille Vignes cuvée. Soils here are not simply granitic, but rather a mix, especially around Côte du Py, of schist, granite, and even metamorphosed andesite.
Following Brouilly, Morgon is the second largest of Beaujolais’ ten crus.
The bucolic region often identified as the southern part of Burgundy, Beaujolais actually doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the rest of the region in terms of climate, soil types and grape varieties. Beaujolais achieves its own identity with variations on style of one grape, Gamay.
Gamay was actually grown throughout all of Burgundy until 1395 when the Duke of Burgundy banished it south, making room for Pinot Noir to inhabit all of the “superior” hillsides of Burgundy proper. This was good news for Gamay as it produces a much better wine in the granitic soils of Beaujolais, compared with the limestone escarpments of the Côte d’Or.
Four styles of Beaujolais wines exist. The simplest, and one that has regrettably given the region a subpar reputation, is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the Beaujolais wine that is made using carbonic maceration (a quick fermentation that results in sweet aromas) and is released on the third Thursday of November in the same year as harvest. It's meant to drink young and is flirty, fruity and fun. The rest of Beaujolais is where the serious wines are found. Aside from the wines simply labelled, Beaujolais, there are the Beaujolais-Villages wines, which must come from the hilly northern part of the region, and offer reasonable values with some gems among them. The superior sections are the cru vineyards coming from ten distinct communes: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Any cru Beajolais will have its commune name prominent on the label.
Delightfully playful, but also capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-packed wines. From Beaujolais, Gamay generally has three classes: Beaujolais Nouveau, a decidedly young, fruit-driven wine, Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais. The Villages and Crus are highly ranked grape growing communes whose wines are capable of improving with age whereas Nouveau, released two months after harvest, is intended for immediate consumption. Somm Secret—The ten different Crus have their own distinct personalities—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant and Morgon is structured and age-worthy.