Henry Fessy Chateau des Labourons Fleurie 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Since 1888 the Fessy family has been based in the heart of the Brouilly appellation of Beaujolais, France. Over the years they have purchased choice parcels of vineyards in most of the 10 Crus and the Beaujolais-Villages appellations to create the enviable domaine that we have today of nearly 70 hectares of prime vineyards. Work in our vineyards is carried out with sensitivity and intelligence and they only intervene when necessary. This philosophy allows them to produce highly complex wines which express a real sense of place and origin. They offer the full range of Beaujolais wines from our own vineyards each expressing their own unique terroir. Experience, tradition, respect and an in-depth knowledge of the Beaujolais vineyards go hand in hand-making Henry Fessy a respected quality-driven Domaine.
In 1888 a travelling salesman called Jean Pelissier decided to buy a parcel of Brouilly right in the heart of the "Paradis" vineyards on the Bel Air plateau. He joined forces with his son-in-law Henri Fessy with the objective of creating excellent wines. During the second half of the 20th century, Jean and Henri's sons and grandsons succeeded in developing the company thanks to their exploration of vineyards beyond Brouilly. Following the company's purchase by Maison Louis Latour in 2008, owners of vineyards and the eponymous brand in Burgundy, a decision was taken to continue acquiring parcels of vineyards, primarily in the ten Beaujolais Crus. Henry Fessy has remained faithful to the traditional method (no carbonic maceration) which favors the balance between the seductive fruit-forwardness and the supple tannins which guarantee good ageing capability. The grapes are transported in small buckets to the winery, before being sorted, de-stemmed and then placed into cement and steel tanks for approximately a week. The length of the fermentation depends considerably on the vintage. The wines will then age in vats for between 7 and 10 months before being bottled the following spring.
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 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 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. 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.