Domaine Blain Cotes de Brouilly Les Jumeaux 2016
Les Jumeaux is Marc-Antonin’s favorite of his three Beaujolais wines, He said, “It is attractive when young but has potential to age.” Les Jumeaux has more power, structure, and length than the Pierre Bleue, yet is very gentle and velvety.
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Domaine Blain was founded in 2014 when siblings Lucie and Marc-Antonin Blain acquired 14 acres of vineyards planted with old vines on the slopes of Mont Brouilly in Beaujolais. Marc-Antonin and Lucie grew up in their family domaine, Domaine Blain-Gagnard, in Chassagne-Montrachet. After completing his oenological studies and gaining experience in Australia, Marc-Antonin made a vintage of Beaujolais in Fleurie which became the catalyst for purchasing land there. Marc-Antonin maintains the vineyards in Brouily and Côte de Brouilly, while Lucie handles the communications, marketing, and daily operations of the business. The wines are vinified in Chassagne-Montrachet. The Beaujolais wine region stretches 55 kilometers from south of Macon to the flatter lands northwest of Lyon. All ten of Beaujolais’ crus sit clustered together in the northern sector of the region where the bedrock is the same schist and sandy granite found 100 kilometers south in Côte-Rôtie. Marc-Antonin and Lucie Blain own vineyards in the southernmost crus of Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Brouilly is the largest cru covering 20% of the Beaujolais area, while the Côte de Brouilly is a much smaller, volcanic slope known for giving structured wines. Vines are trained in the traditional Gobelet and average vine age is over 50 years old. Three different cuvées are produced based on soil and elevation: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly Pierre Bleue, and Côte de Brouilly Les Jumeaux.
The bucolic region often identified as the southern part of Burgundy, Beaujolais actually doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the rest of the region in terms of climate, soil types and grape varieties. Beaujolais achieves its own identity with variations on style of one grape, Gamay.
Gamay was actually grown throughout all of Burgundy until 1395 when the Duke of Burgundy banished it south, making room for Pinot noir to inhabit all of the “superior” hillsides of Burgundy proper. This was good news for Gamay as it produces a much better wine in the granitic soils of Beaujolais, compared with the limestone escarpments of the Côte d’Or.
Four styles of Beaujolais exist though most is sold under the basic Beaujolais appellation. The simplest, and one that has regrettably given the region a subpar reputation, is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the wine that is made using carbonic maceration (a quick fermentation that results in sweet aromas) and is released on the third Thursday of November in the same year as harvest. It's meant to drink young and is flirty, fruity and fun. The rest of Beaujolais is where the serious wines are found. Beaujolais-Villages, which must come from the hilly northern part of the region, offer reasonable values with some gems among them. The superior section are the cru vineyards coming from ten distinct communes: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Any cru Beajolais will have its commune name prominent on the label.
Delightfully playful, but also capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-packed wines. From Beaujolais, Gamay generally has three classes: Beaujolais Nouveau, a decidedly young, fruit-driven wine, Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais. The Villages and Crus are highly ranked grape growing communes whose wines are capable of improving with age whereas Nouveau, released two months after harvest, is intended for immediate consumption. Somm Secret—The ten different Crus have their own distinct personalities—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant and Morgon is structured and age-worthy.