Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2021 edition panel test of 2019 cru Beaujolais (see blue link below for the review).
Domaine de la Beche, Morgon Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2019 - August 2021 Decanter review
Click here for our video tasting (and a little Beaujolais-related introspection) of/on this wine.
Domaine de la Bêche was founded deep in the hills of Beaujolais in 1848. Olivier Depardon, the family’s 7th generation, took the reins in 1985 with 4 acres of vines and over the years, this industrious man increased the domaine’s holdings to 65 acres. Most are in (AOP) Morgon, followed by Regnié and then Beaujolais-Villages. He also invested in new equipment and has plans on hand to expand the cellar.
In 2003, he made the decision to de-stem all fruit and stop working with whole clusters (but still retaining whole berries and thus gentle fermentation with a semi-carbonic maceration result), but he still uses the 5,000 and 6,000-liter oak foudres that his father and grandfather used to age the Morgon VV and Côte du Py. All fermentations continue to be spontaneous.
In 2013, Olivier's son Alexis joined the domaine, following oenological studies. In 2018, Alexis’ older sister Caroline also joined the domaine; the commercial side is now mostly handled by her and her mother Ghislaine, while the vines and cellar are mostly handled by Olivier and Alexis (with the aid of patriarch Maurice, Olivier’s father, who still is out in the vines pruning; apparently, he remains much faster than either his son or grandson). But everyone does a bit of everything.
The domaine is unique in the appellation for having vines in all six of Morgon’s climats. They are: Les Charmes, Côte du Py, Corcellette, Douby, Grand Cras, and Micouds, and grapes from each go into this Morgon Vieille Vignes cuvée. In that sense, this cuvée qualifies as the most representative Morgon of all, and it certainly supports the notion that Morgon, along with Moulin-à-Vent, is the densest and longest-lived of the Beaujolais crus.
Locals refer to the appellation’s soils as roche pourrie, or rotten rock, because it is particularly weathered. It’s also iron-rich, which stems from its diverse geology: the soils here are not simply granitic (as is often believed of Beaujolais), but rather a mix, especially around Côte du Py, of schist, granite, and even metamorphosed andesite (the so-called “blue granite” of Côte du Py and of that other extinct volcano, Côte du Brouilly).
The grapes for Cuvee Vielles Vignes come from 27 acres of 70- to 100-year-old vines, growing across all of Morgon’s six climats. All the grapes are hand-picked, de-stemmed and fermented with indigenous yeast(s). Most of the wine is raised in very large, old foudres of 5,000 and 6,000-litres for nine months, while about 5% is aged in older 225-liter barrels. This is an especially dense, dark Morgon. There is no fining and only light filtration at bottling.
A nose of (very much) ripe black cherries and fresh raspberries with spicy notes. On the palate, there is good complexity already (for a wine of its age), depth, power and substance. There is marked mouth-watering acidity: this adds refreshment but is well integrated with (and balanced by) the dark ripeness of the fruit. Surprisingly balanced and delicious; deep and dark without heaviness and with well-integrated tannins.