Jean Foillard – Morgon “Côte du Py” 2015

The story of Rosé’s rise to fame and wanton debauchery for the general public isn’t something I’ve found terribly surprising. Well-made Rosé is excellent and favoring the Provençal style gives everyone splitting a bottles something to love: overall lighter body, good acidity for food, and if based on Grenache, still a decent amount of structure for red wine lovers. That and the color is simply fun, much in the same way sparkling wines have become the definition of celebration.

For anyone who has delved deeper into the wine world, I think the change that’s happened in Beaujolais is much more striking however. The producers in that region have gone from being seen as open tap for stringy, puffy-fruited, thin wines released just after harvest as Beaujolais Nouveau to seeing their regional wines, and especially their 12 Grand Crus getting readily more prized with each vintage. It must be remembered that Rosé is a general category and has the same sense as that of a piece of paper in the breeze, able to change direction at any second. Beaujolais on the other hand is a region and to change course as such, is more like doing a U-turn with a cargo ship.

As I’ve had maybe one bottle’s worth of the Nouveau style over my entire life, for me, Beaujolais has always been about the Crus and I tend to favor Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon the most. I’m not readily sure as to why although it’s probably as they (along with Juliénas and Chénas) are considered the larger-bodied and more earthy of the Crus. It could also be that Moulin-à-Vent meaning “windmill” and Morgon being easy to say makes them attractive. Or it could be that certain sites like the Côte du Py slope in Morgon produce some of the deepest and supposedly most “Burgundian” wines although that’s a rather stupid descriptor as Beaujolais is in reality part of Burgundy. It’s like saying, “Oh, this Mondavi wine is very Napaian.”

But within Morgon on this Côte du Py we find the producer, Jean Foillard. I first encountered his wines when opting for the wine tasting menu at El Celler de Roca (highly recommended) and his wine was paired with a dish of arròs I believe. Lively, earthy, plummy, and dark fruited, it was simply wonderful. Indeed, there was a bit of brett to it as I remember and it wasn’t until after I looked up a bit more about Foillard that I read people were a bit polarized on his wines. Sure, there’s a natural aspect to them as Foillard was one of the early proponents of the style in the region, but it’s very much “good natural” that I love to drink as opposed to “shit natural” which is for zealots, lunatics, and washing the paws of one’s dog.

This Côte du Py is a wine I simply adore and was happy to pick up a bottle of this non-current vintage a couple of month’s back. It’s a testament to the work that Foillard and a handful of others have done to put Beaujolais back on the map of serious wine regions in the world. And of course low-yielding 60 year-old Gamay vines don’t hurt a scratch either.

Morgon “Côte du Py” 2015
Leans towards initial red fruit notes but with some dark currants and gentle plum bits as well, earthy, wet forest floor, and wild forest herbs. Medium plus acidity, and finish with very well-formed tannins throughout that worked only to boost the lovely character of the wine overall.
100% Gamay 14% 23€
** 91