This is my favorite Beaujolais producer. I was first introduced to these wines in March 2013 at a restaurant mid-way between Chablis and the Côte d’Or. Our lineup consisted of several bottles with 8-10 years of age and they were sensational. Since then I have purchased at least a few bottles every vintage, but they never survive around my house. Aged Lapierre is not easy to find. We drink it too soon!
The Lapierre domaine was founded in 1904 and Marcel took over from his father in 1973. In 1981, he changed their course based on the viticultural practices of Jules Chauvet, which in turn changed the world’s perception of Beaujolais. As the importer Kermit Lynch states, Marcel Lapierre, Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Jean Foillard, “called for a return to the old practices of viticulture and vinification: starting with old vines, never using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late, rigorously sorting to remove all but the healthiest grapes, adding minimal doses of sulfur dioxide or none at all, and disdaining chaptalization.”
Over the past 35 years, the ten crus of Beaujolais have become a key fixture in French terroir and positively increased the view of Gamay overall. This is the first vintage that Lapierre is releasing a Juliénas cru wine. Sadly, Marcel passed away in 2010, right after harvest. His son Mathieu had been working under his father since 2005 and is now at the helm of the family domaine, with help from his sister Camille.Take note, this Juliénas might be a one-time release, because these are not domaine owned grapes. Some of their vineyards in Morgon were beat up by hail in 2016. To supplement their operation, Mathieu contracted seven acres of grapes from the Côte de Bessay, a vineyard with 60-year-old vines on volcanic and schist soils. No word yet if this label will continue in 2017, and with the minimal allocation received at Les Marchands, it might be wise to jump on a few bottles.