Fleurie – The Queen of Beaujolais Crus

Fleurie Beaujolais Cru tasting Le Mordant Paris February 2020

Bruno Copéret from Domaine de Roche-Guillon discussing his Fleurie wines.

French #Winophiles head to the Beaujolais Crus

We’re going to the land of Gamay cru this Beaujolais month with our Grapevine Experiences host Cindy Rynning. Stick around to the end of my article where you’re sure to find a wine and recipe you’ll like from others in the group!

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There is so much good happening in Beaujolais that it’s worth revealing. A 140-kilometer wine route, breathtaking landscapes, gastronomy galore and outdoor activities abound and just 30 minutes north of Lyon. The natural wine movement is certainly present too, with a younger group of gals and guys involved. And then there are the ten crus.

It’s hard to pick a particular cru. They all have their own personalities and it depends on your mood. But I’ve decided to take you to Fleurie.

The Woman in Red

Fleurie is one of the ten Beaujolais crus. Each cru is its own appellation (AOC) and all are located in northern half of the larger Beaujolais region.

Having the ‘cru’ status indicates the wine is produced on a geographically restricted area where each cru (AOC) must comply with particular specifications.

And each of the crus are historically known for their wine reputation or more precisely for their wine style and quality given by the terroir (the environmental factors that effect grapevines: location, soil, climate, and human factors) and the winemaking style (carbonic maceration).

Given these inputs, wine folks describe Fleurie like this: carmine in color, producing the most aromatic wines with a delicate personality, fruity and floral notes, complex yet softly elegant, and some are age worthy. They also call her the queen. I call her the woman in red.

This generalization is based on years of people tasting and reviewing Fleurie wines. It’s a good place to start but as with all wines, differences in specific vineyard sites and winemaking methods can alter the aromatics and structure of a wine.

 

Carbonic What?

Carbonic maceration is a winemaking method invented in Beaujolais that propelled Beaujolais Nouveau into stardom. It was a blessing and a curse that’s happily evaporating. The crus are indeed evidence.

Wine made via this method certainly has distinct markers- ebullient fruitiness (raspberries, strawberries, cherries) with non-sweet bubble gum thrown in, purple and red flowers, and an earthy substrate sometimes with vanilla and cinnamon. It makes red wine accessible and fruity fun to drink, and is partly where some of the cru personality traits came from.

There’s one hundred percent carbonic maceration and semi-carbonic, the later practiced worldwide depending on what style the winemaker wants. Some of the now trendy glou-glou wines are made this way.

Given how Beaujolais and carbonic maceration tend to be joined at the hip, and that a large percent of Beaujolais from the larger regional Beaujolais AOC to the crus are made via semi-carbonic maceration, one could ask what a Beaujolais cru is like when not made via this method. Does it have more than a personality? Perhaps an identity?

To find out I went to a Fleurie Cru tasting at restaurant Le Mordant in Paris right before lockdown.

Dégustation du Cru Fleurie (Tasting Fleurie Crus)

Fleurie Beaujolais Cru Tasting Le Mordant Feb2020Dozens of producers showcased their wines. I spent the evening talking, tasting and learning about:

The topography: rolling hills and steep slopes up to 400 meters above sea level.

The soil: mostly pink granite, with some clay and sand in the form of saprolite.

The vineyards: goblet, single cordon and double guyot vine training systems, mostly hand-harvesting, environmentally respectful viticulture is common including organic and the French terre-vitis certification, plus more.

And of course tasting many wines, not one displeasing! Below are highlights of a few particularly enjoyed. Note none went through 100% carbonic maceration but a few saw semi-carbonic.

Clos de Mez is owned and run by the gracious Marie-Elodie Zighera Confuron who returned to her roots in 2006 and set her business up on the family’s vineyard land in Fleurie. The winery is organic.

Beaujolais Fleurie AOP

                   Marie-Elodie performing manual pigeage (punch down) with safety precaution in place!

Clos de Mez Mademoiselle M Fleurie 2018 (15€/$16.75) and La Dot Fleurie 2017 (23€/$25), both from the Grand Pré .

 

Château des Bachelards owner Alexandra de Vazeilles (pictured below) stepped onto this Fleurie soil in 2014 and became certified biodynamic in 2015. She has 12 hectares (29 acres)

Chateau des Bachelards Alexandra harvesting Beaujolais Fleurie Cru

Fleurie Bachelards 201624€ / $27

Alexandra has sheep, bees, practices permaculture and agroforesty, and makes her own biodynamic herbal teas for vineyard treatments.

Grapes are destemmed, 28 day maceration, indigenous yeast fermentation in concrete vats followed by 24 months aging in 3,000 liter barrels.

 

Fleurie Beaujolais cruRuby red with raspberry red highlights.

An expressive bouquet of violet and iris, red fruits, and black plum.

The palate is dense yet silky, elegant and long.

One of the fullest bodied wines tasted during the evening with definite aging potential.

 

 

Domaine Grand Fers 1890 owner Christian Bernard (below) greeted me with a huge smile. Bernard owns parcels in several different locations in the Fleurie AOC and vinifies them separately before final mixing. Interesting to note he works with only his best wines and sells the rest on the bulk market.

Beaujolais Fleurie Christian Bernard

Christian Bernard showing his “Les Roches” single vineyard Fleurie cru early in the evening.

Christian Bernard Gamay Originel 2018 – €12/$13.50 and Les Roches 2015 €23/$25

 

Domaine des Marrans  has a 4 hectare Fleurie vineyard at 310 meters (1,000 feet), the plot is named Le Pavillion. Tasting their 2005 from magnum (photo below) was one of the evening highlights. An absolutely beautiful wine- violet, macerated strawberries, black plum and earthy spice hints gave way to a soft and silky yet beautifully structured wine with a lingering finish.

Magnum of Domaine de Marrans Le Pavillion, the single vineyard name was not on the label in 2005.

Domaine de la Bouronière The same family has farmed the land since the 18th century. Located on 11 hectares (27 acres) and certified Terre-Vitis sustainable. Their Fleurie princess is below.

Domaine de la Bouronière – Cuvée Princess 2017 – Les Labourons – €20/$22

Domaine Bouroniere Fleurie Beaujolais cru

 

Shy aromas of red and black berries, iris and violets, and faint spices then the wine explodes on the palate in a balanced, silky tannin, easy to drink way.

Beaujolais crus are having a moment. The ten named villages are providing serious value for cost compared to their Burgundy Côte d’Or neighbors, I’m continually amazed. As lockdown lifts in France and around the world, I’m reaching for serious fun in Fleurie Beaujolais.

 

Château de Fleurie is in the heart of the Fleurie appellation.

Château de Fleurie – La Madone 2018 – 17€ / $18.50

Berries de-stemmed, crushed, extended fermentation of 15 days, aged 9 months in large wooden vats (foudres) then bottled.

Aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry, rose, licorice and cinnamon; medium-bodied, lively acidity and fine silky tannins on the lengthy finish.

~ ~ ~ My Fleurie conclusion? I mostly agree. She can be a soft and subtle princess who on occasion is sprightly, or sometimes a bold and elegant queen. I bet Dillinger and his woman in red would have loved her.

More Beaujolais Cru Adventures from the #Winophiles

Here’s what the French #Winophiles crew discovered on their Beaujolais cru virtual adventure! And Join the conversation on Twitter at 11am ET, Saturday, May 16 using hashtag #Winophiles

 

26 thoughts on “Fleurie – The Queen of Beaujolais Crus

  1. Lori

    I am a fan of Fluerie. The lovely flowery aromatics get me every time. One of the more feminine crus, it is perfect when I am in a cozy up kind of mood.

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Rich there with you Lori! I’ll remember this for when we meet face-to-face 😉

      Reply
  2. Robin Bell Renken

    There is so much to love here! I am excited to hear that the Natural wine movement is on the rise in the Cru Beaujolais. I have been reading Kermit Lynch’s “Adventures on the Wine Route” and the movement away from natural wine was lamented even then, some 30 years ago. I would love to taste a wine from this region made in a more natural style.
    I was thrilled to see 2 female winemakers in your list! As well as one biodynamic vineyard!
    One question I have…can you explain the Grand Pré?

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      As soon as I get my FR DL I’m heading to visit these two ladies (and more 😉 The Grand Pré is a vineyard plot or “lieu-dit” as the French say, in Fleurie. It’s similar to a single vineyard designated wine. I failed to mention Clos de Mez is organic, will note that!

      Reply
  3. Camilla M. Mann

    Wow! I have never even heard of Fleurie. But now I’m intrigued. I’ll have to try and hunt down a bottle…or three soon. Thanks for the education, Lynn.

    Reply
  4. Jane

    Aww, those pre lock down gatherings! It seems like a life time ago. How lucky were you to taste all those Cru Beaujolais wines! I wish more were available stateside.

    Reply
  5. MARTIN D REDMOND

    What a tasting to attend Lynn! I’ve been wondering if the Cru were using semi-carbonic (i suspected none were using full carbonic), so you’ve answered that question for me! A wonderful read.

    Stay well my friend!

    Reply
  6. Linda Whipple, CSW

    “The lady in red” is an apt descriptor for this elegant Fleurie wine. I’d like to track down Alexandra, the certified Biodynamic winemaker. May need to do so in person!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      I had a nice exchange at the tasting then afterwards. Happy to share her information with you Linda!

      Reply
  7. Cindy

    So happy you loved the Chateau de Fleurie! I was with Jean Loron one evening in the cellar there where tasted new releases and a few very special wines from years ago. Fleurie is just beautiful and I can’t wait to return to this royal gem!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      What a nice visit you had Cindy! I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Monsieur Loron that night, look forward to getting there someday.

      Reply
  8. Lauren

    What an incredible opportunity to taste wines from the same cru and compare them on production method and style. Your posts always send me on a virtual wine adventure, trips that I hope to do in person one day!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      An apartment I rented in Chicago was once occupied by The Woman In Red. Fleurie just feels like that mischievous woman.

      Reply
  9. Mary Lou Cummings

    Thank you Lynn for another wonderful post. When I was in France last summer, just after visiting Bordeaux, my daughter and I were able to visit Domaine Striffling in Régnié-Durette (a long story for another time). From Guillaume’s cave, we could see Côte de Brouilly in the distance. Next time I will go to Fleurie. Certainly before then, I will taste some. Your descriptions have me eager to discover Fleurie!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      And thanks for sharing your experience Mary Lou. Maybe next time we’ll go together!

      Reply
  10. Jeff

    I’m intrigued to try the Clos de Mez wines side by side to see the end result differences. Do we cheat Gamay when full CM is chosen?

    Reply

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