Domaine Blain Cotes de Brouilly Pierre Bleue 2018
Marc-Antonin describes this wine as “linear with a straight structure.” Northwest-facing vines bring tension to the wine while the meager soil provides a mineral backbone. The wine shows aromas and flavors of ripe red fruits such as strawberries and cherries, while a percentage of whole clusters add to the wine’s complexity.
Gamay has low tannins and refreshing acidity, making it an ideal red wine partner with dark fish such as grilled salmon or tuna. It can also be an excellent contrast to foods that are oily, fatty, or high in salt, such as saucisson sec or roasted meat. It is at home with classic bistro fare such as roast chicken or steak frites.
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 wines exist. The simplest, and one that has regrettably given the region a subpar reputation, is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the Beaujolais 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. Aside from the wines simply labelled, Beaujolais, there are the Beaujolais-Villages wines, which must come from the hilly northern part of the region, and offer reasonable values with some gems among them. The superior sections 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.