France: A beautiful Morgon and, from the south,
a gorgeous Ginger!
Bonne Tonne “Côte Du Py” Morgan (AOC) 2018, 13%
“To come to live off our profession by producing a small quantity of grapes for a great quality of wine..”
The Gamay grape, outlawed by Royal decree in 1395 for being “a very bad and disloyal plant”, is now one of the most respected, at least when grown in the Beaujolais region. And Morgan, where the Grillet family make their Bonne Tonne wines, is one of ten cru areas here and one of the better known ones.
So I’m expecting good things when I pour this mid ruby coloured wine. I won’t be disappointed at all. The dark berry aromas are quite intense, inviting, rich and fresh. And so it continues on the rich and rounded palate, smooth and harmonious all the way through to a long intense finish. It is an absolutely amazing Gamay and Very Highly Recommended.
The Grillet family have been winemakers for seven generations in Morgon and their vines are of an average age of 65 years. 1.10 ha is grown in Beaujolais appellation including 50 ares in Gamay and 60 ares in Chardonnay. The wines of the area possess a lot of finesse and a wonderfully expressive fruit.
Here is how the Grillets sum it up: “This is the challenge we have embarked on. To come to live off our profession by producing a small quantity of grapes for a great quality of wine and to make finally express itself this soil so rich which does not require less. The 'black gamay with white juice', the only grape variety authorized for red wines in Beaujolais, can thus translate all its complexity of aromas.”
The Morgon "Côte du Py", is the most famous climat of the vineyard. There are ten crus in the Beaujolais region and Morgon, as you probably know, is one of them. With the typical acidity, these wines can match a range of foods.
World famous for its exceptional soil resulting from ancient volcanic activity, the soil of the Py hill is composed of decomposing volcanic elements, with the presence of iron oxide and manganese. The blue rock is friable, and so the locals have been known to claim that the best Morgon are made on this land of terre pourrie (rotten rock)!
Mas Théo Ginger Vin de France 2019, 12.5%
From the middle of the Rhone area, this orange/gold coloured wine, tannic and fruity, is a blend of Marsanne (35%), Roussane (35%), Grenache Blanc (30%). And it is “vinification like the reds” that gives the wine that orange-y hue.
And, so the vineyard says, the name Ginger, the hair colour or the vegetable, fits well with the spirit of this wine. “And the label’s red hen is a nod to those of the farm” but remains silent on the fox!
Aromas are complex: barley sugar, butterscotch. And you can find much the same combination in the flavours on the full palate plus stone fruit flavours such as plum and apricot. All before a lingering and very pronounced dry, almost sherry type, finish. If you are not familiar with the style, this is a pretty good bridge to orange wines and is Highly Recommended. It is new to the Mary Pawle range and should be available in more outlets in the future.
Served at 10°C, the wine should go well with “with a Bresse chicken with morel sauce (good luck with that!) or a very chocolatey dessert”.
Since 2012, the biodynamic wines are made in old stone quarries: the Caves Cathédrales. This troglodyte area is an ideal cradle for the elaboration of these natural wines in the same way that tufa quarries of the Loire are ideal for raising wine and growing mushrooms. “The atmosphere of the Caves Cathédrales, rather cold at 57°F (14C), but regular throughout the year, makes it possible to manage the wines without preservative.” The vineyard itself is part of a mixed farming enterprise.