Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Top Cru Beaujolais - Domaines Piron and Lardy

I have been promising to write-up the notes from this rather excellent tasting, ever since it took place in October 2014. It was the result of a summer visit by Nottingham Wine Circle members David Bennett and Peter Bamford to the domaines of Dominique Piron and Lucien Lardy. I don't have much technical information about the viticultural or vinicultural practices of either grower, though I assume David or Peter might chip-in with some info in the comments section. There are links to both growers' websites at the bottom of this post.

By way of full disclosure, I am told by David and Peter that whilst the Piron wines were sold to them at "trade" prices, the wines from Lucien Lardy were very kindly provided free of charge, specifically for this tasting. Not that there is ever any obligation to publish notes on every wine given away by growers. But in this case, it would be a shame not to do so, since the wines - and especially those from Lucien Lardy - are well worthy of merit. From what I am told, Dominique Piron is hailed as one of *the* stars of the region, whilst Lucien Lardy seems to be flying somewhat under the radar............... 

David Bennett (left) and Peter Bamford (right). Apologies for the grainy photo, taken with my phone. Then again, with these two, the softer the focus, the better!
Beaujolais Blanc, “La Chanaise”, Dominique Piron, 2013 
Vanilla and lemon, like a fresh-from-the-oven lemon layer pudding. The palate seems a bit one-dimensional and flat. Decent enough, but boring. 

Beaujolais Blanc, Chardonnay, Lucien Lardy, 2013 ** 
This is really good stuff and, frankly, knocks the Piron into a cocked hat. Identifiably Macon Chardonnay – lemon, apple, minerality, lovely acidity, floral. Yummy! 

Brouilly, Dominique Piron, 2013 ** 
Carbonic maceration? Boiled sweets and tar on the nose, quite floral, meaty too. Brioche. Lots of dark cherry and bramble fruit, lovely acidity and rich, ripe tannins. A lovely drink. 

Fleurie, Dominique Piron, 2013 **+ 
Totally different to the Brouilly above. Smoke, meat, mushroom, iodine, earth, with subtle floral and mineral notes. The palate is contrary – elegant and fine, with more structure – tannins are lighter but grippier. Sour cherry, steely minerality. Long, warming and really lovely. 

Morgon, “Côte du Py”, Dominique Piron, 2013 *** 
Dark, with cherry, meat and floral aromas. Quite northern Rhone, but also quite Cote d’Or - not a bad mix! Ripe and even rich, but very classy and beautifully made. The range of flavours – savoury/fruit/mineral - is exceptional and the balance is spot on. This will be even better in 5-8 years. A really brilliant wine.

Morgon, “Côte du Py”, Dominique Piron, 2012
Apparently 2012 was a disastrous Beaujolais vintage, and I guess it shows in this wine.Very dumb nose. Sniff hard and you get iodine, raspberry, lapsang tea, earth. The palate has hints of emulsion paint, mineral and earth. There is some fruit, but it is all rather lean and graceless (in comparison to 2013’s). 

Régnié, Domaine de la Croix Penet, “Croix Penet”, Dominique Piron, 2012 
Again, iodine/mineral, earth, a hint of meat, quite tannic and extracted, and seemingly having had too much time in barrel. Decent, but not distinguished. 

Chénas, Domaine Piron-Lameloise, “Quartz”, Dominique Piron, 2011
Earthy, meaty (there’s a trend here), ripe, with notes of blueberry muffin and tar. Earthy, dense; lots of ripe, chocolatey tannins and lots of oak. This needs lots of time, though I reserve judgment. 

Fleurie, “Lardy”, Lucien Lardy, 2012 ** 
Complex, in a way that nothing leaps out, but there is plenty going on. Lots of small, sweet, wild strawberry and raspberry, hints of leather and herbs, flowers. This isn’t a show-off – rather it speaks quietly but carefully. Balanced, beautifully structured and elegant. This really is very classy stuff and was a true bargain at €7 from the cellar door. A cracker. 

Fleurie, “Les Chènes”, Lucien Lardy, 2011 **+ 
What a lovely nose! Elegant, full of subtle berry and red cherry fruits, both fresh and crystallised, yin and yang, with a touch of oak, but very carefully done. This is beautifully elegant, balanced, classy. A really lovely wine. 

Fleurie, “Les Chènes du Vivier”, Lucien Lardy, 2011 **+
Another lovely nose - Love Hearts (remember them?) and a lick of classy oak (new, I suspect), but with lots of earthy, minerally, floral and other things going on. The palate is already so elegant, soft yet compelling. I could drink this now, but it has lots of potential. Another lovely wine. 

Fleurie, “Les Moriers, Vieilles Vignes”, Lucien Lardy, 2012 **+
Smells of seared steak – char-grilled. Once again, some oak is evident, but the effect is subtle, with all of the emphasis on fruit – bramble and cassis, black cherry. Complex and compelling wine. This guy makes great wines! Another to drink or keep. 

Fleurie, “Les Moriers, Vieilles Vignes”, Lucien Lardy, 2011 **++ 
I’m losing track and running short of adjectives. Sweet fruit nose (fresh and crystallised), aubergine (apparently), slow roasted beef / gravy, hints of flowers. The palate is once again so complex, so approachable, yet full of verve and truly multi-dimensional. Again, some oak, but the fruit is more than ample. Hints of iodine, cough medicine, mint, jam, bread. Uber complex and utterly delicious.

In conclusion, though some of the Piron reds showed very well, it is worth noting that the best were all from the stellar 2013 vintage, whilst the 2011's and 2012's were pretty average, at least to my palate. The Lardy reds, on the other hand, were all 2011 and 2012 - and without exception, they were all truly delicious. Suffice to say I would love to see what sort of wines he made in the fabulous 2013 vintage!

All of which goes to show that the old adage rings true - it's not about the vintage, it's about the grower. Having said that, one should never assume blindly that a grower's wines are necessarily worthy of their lofty reputation. Ultimately, Piron may be the star, but the Lardy wines were considered by pretty much all those present to be the purest, most structured and most elegant of the two. Indeed, were I to dip my (commercial) toe into the Beaujolais market again (which is unlikely, since I always found it such a hard sell, for some reason) then I would be banging Monsieur Lardy's door down, in order to get my hands on his wines! 

Grower websites;                       


Dids said...

The first ever Beaujolis white I had 1/2 dozen years ago was a Lardy and thought it lovely. Got from the back end of beyond in Donegal. Nice to see it performed well at the tasting.

AlanM said...

Cote Du Py seems to be delivering some stellar wines in recent years, I had some excellent wines from Foillard and another from Breton (not labelled as such but apparently from the Py area). It's a region with which I fell in love, ignored for a while back but have realised I was the one who was in the wrong. Probably due to all those brilliant natural producers.

Anonymous said...

Re extra viticultural info, what came across from speaking to Lucien Lardy was the advantage that generations of experience can have… if you have the passion to work long hours and implement that knowledge. He knew every inch of his land, and how to manage each vine in light of the soil it sat in and the direction it faced. So it's partially that human element of terroir that let his wines excel in even 2012.

Another factor is soil-terroir. The NE edge of Fleurie shares the crumbly pink granite of Moulin-a-Vent. That delivers a perfect balance of drainage and water retention; like the greatest Burgundy terroirs.

Piron has some excellent plots too. Even the Regnie, which showed less well in the tasting, has proven delicious at home. Finesse; class. :)



Anonymous said...

For posterity on this blog page, here were some interesting Tweets after the tasting:

Master Sommelier Laurent Richet, from 2-star Michelin restaurant Sat Bains:

Ever-insightful Bernard Caille:

Me (!):



Guy Dennis said...

On my kitchen work top is a bottle of Piron Cote du Py 2006, which has decent wine vinegar in it. You see, I opened the bottle about a year ago, when it would have been 8 years old.. and while it smelt OK, wasn't corked or oxidised, it was shot. I like aged Cru Beaujolais, and have some very nice 05 Moulin a Vent, but I'd be wary of keeping the Piron 8 years, based on my experience.

Leon Stolarski said...

Thanks for commenting, Guy. Perhaps another reason to go for Lardy, rather than Piron.

Guy Dennis said...

My pleaseure, Leon. I can't comment. I had one bottle of the Piron, and that was it. What a shame. But very possibly it was superb when younger. It seems hard to know what will and won't age. I had an 05 Burgaud Cote du Py recently, and it didn't seem old at all.. if anything I think it needs more time. I wonder if it's really possible to judge these things looking forward based on tasting alone? What is definitely true of Cru Beaujolais, however, is that Coudert has the best bottle labels by far!!