Dominique Piron, 2018 Chenas, Quartz
Dominique Piron had been eyeing this property for more than thirty years. It was the Domaine Robin, and they even had a fine restaurant as well. He had always been impressed with the wine, and then in the past few years, after the death of the patriarch, a very strong personality, the domaine and restaurant went under. Since he had remained on good terms with the family, he was one of the first to know that they needed to sell the vines.
The domaine comprises ten hectares of vines in Chenas, all in one parcel, which is very rare in Beaujolais. Normally a winemaker’s vines are scattered around a 10-20 km radius, much like further north in the Côte d’Or. The entire parcel is en coteau (on a hill), and faces directly east. Chenas is the smallest appellation of the Beaujolais crus and it is also the highest in elevation from 300-500 meters. Located just east and uphill from Moulin à Vent, in the past, some of Chenas’ wine made it into its more famous neighbor’s best cuvées. The soil is granite based clay with bands of quartz running through it. This is where the wine gets its name as the quartz imparts a mineral quality to the wine which makes it very expressive without being heavy. The vineyard is planted to 100% Gamay and the average age of the vines is over 35 years old. They are all pruned in the traditional goblet (head-pruned) style of Beaujolais. The harvest is done entirely by hand.
The size of the parcel made it necessary to find a partner in his friend Jean Marc Lafont in Brouilly. Together with one employee, the two friends tend the vines, make the wine and bottle it under the same label. They, in turn, split up the wine and each market it through their own networks.
The wine has excellent concentration and character and plenty of forward dark red/purple fruit. The balance is perfect and will enable aging over the next 5-7 years, but it’s delicious to drink this evening. This is a perfect example of why the best cru Beaujolais can stand side by side most Burgundies from the Pinot Noir grape.