Laurent Gauthier Morgon Grands Cras Vieilles Vignes 2010
Back to Beaujolais today, for the first time since I featured the 2008 Christophe Cordier Morgon Côte de Py Vieilles Vignes late last year. As I described in that post, there are six climats to the Morgon appellation, which roughly correlate with the three principal terroirs; to very briefly recap, these are Corcelette and Douby to the north of Villié-Morgon (granite), Les Micouds and Côte du Py to the east and south of Villié-Morgon (mostly schist) and running along the lower border of the commune Les Charmes and Grand Cras, which are situated on tuff, a rock which consists of compacted, consolidated volcanic ash. A stretch of this rock also runs up the eastern edge of the commune, touching the Micouds and Côte de Py climats. Of these, the Côte de Py is the most famous, which is perhaps why we should look at one of the others. This weeks wine is from the Grand Cras (or, according to the label, Grands Cras) climat.
The vineyards of the Grand Cras climat lie in a sweep running roughly east-west, at the foot of the Côte de Py. As indicated above the soils are based on compacted and consolidated volcanic ash, known as tuff, occasionally also referred to as tufa. It is tempting to think that these closely related terroirs of tuff, granite and schist all have local volcanic origin, but this is not entirely correct. The tuff obviously does, a remnant of truly ancient volcanic activity, but the granitic and schistous mounts of Beaujolais - such as the Côte du Py - are not the solidified remnants of old volcanoes but deeply formed masses pushed up through the tuff with the uplift of the Massif Central that occurred in the mid-Tertiary era. Today these schists have weathered into a state of decomposition, the small grey stones so generated referred to as morgons because of their particular association with the commune of Morgon, an alternative name being roches pourries, which translates literally as rotted rocks.
The wine in question, the 2010 Morgon Grands Cras Vieilles Vignes, comes from Laurent Gauthier, whose family has been making wine in Morgon since at least 1834. He is one of a very interesting association of Beaujolais and Mâconnais artisan-vignerons who go by the name of Terroirs Originels. I have tasted a trio of wines from the group (sent over as samples a week or two ago) and I found this wine to be the most convincing and interesting (although to be fair there wasn't much in it - all three were of good quality - and I will report on the other two separately). The colour in the glass is bright and glinting, with a vibrant crimson hue, and moderate intensity. The fruits on the nose are firm, redolent of plum and cherry stone, which some say is a particular characteristic of the commune. It is well defined and confident, with nuances of raspberry and white pepper too, revealing more perfumed violet tinges with time. There is a very minerally edge to the style on the palate, with a stony core surrounded by a gentle cushion of fruit, this is a bright, vivacious and defined, with fresh fruit character, and not a hint of the more confected flavours more generic Beaujolais might call to mind. An attractive wine and one with a reserved character and a long, structured finish. Alcohol 12.5%. 16/20 (25/6/12)