From Aubrey Stout of Imbibe:
Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc - Jean-Paul Brun is a no-nonsense winemaker from Beaujolais who has garnered a reputation that reaches far beyond the natural wine community.
He has worked in the village of Charnay in southern Beaujolais, just north of Lyon, for nearly 40 years. He grew up on a farm that had some vines whose fruit the family sold to the local co-op, until Brun expressed an interest in winemaking. They began bottling their own wine, and Brun took over the domaine in 1979.
The rolling hills around Charnay are crisscrossed with roads winding through villages with ancient churches carved out of stone perched on the hillsides. Statues of Mary stand watch at the intersections and vines are everywhere. Still, though wine is ubiquitous in Beaujolais, especially from the Gamay grape, Brun was considered an oddball for years for his insistence on vinifying in a Burgundian fashion, and eschewing the carbonic maceration and whole-cluster fermentation so common in the region. He also used ambient yeast, while the majority of Beaujolais uses a cultivated yeast to enhance its fruity flavors, making it taste like banana candy and cinnamon. Brun wanted to make Gamay that was fruity, but elegant--ready to drink, but also capable of ageing. It wasn't until about fifteen years ago that he switched to organics--a slow and painful process, but he does it because it's better for the land and the wine, not to follow fashions.
When asked about natural wine and sulfur in wine, he says:
"I think a lot of people are getting too caught up about making wine without sulfur. These wines have gotten a lot of press recently and I don't want people to think that I'm against making wine without sulfur, because I'm not, but we all know that sulfur is produced naturally by the fermenting yeasts to auto-protect the wine and that wine without sulfur becomes vinegar.
I can think of a few incredibly talented vignerons that have mastered making sulfur free wine, wines where I've never had an off bottle, and I commend them. And I can think of even more vignerons that only sulfur minimally at bottling and do a great job. But the majority just don't have a firm grasp of what they are doing.
These people discredit sulfur free wine. The fact these wines are commercially available is a travesty to me: I'd rather these guys make conventional industrial wine than f***** up sulfur free wine. They should stay home and let the big boys do the job correctly."
His Chardonnay is definitely correct--it was the first wine he ever made, and almost a third of his 30 hectares are devoted to it. The vines are over 80 years old, on clay and limestone soils. It's racy and elegant with stony, leesy, floral notes, and crisp apple and pear fruit. Drink it with roast chicken and root vegetables, frittata, pot pie, or fish.
2. Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais "L'Ancien" - Gamay from 80-year-old vines on clay and limestone soils. This was the second wine Brun made. It's beautiful, classic Beaujolais, Brun-style--light, bright, brimming with cherry and strawberry fruit, acidity, minerality, and elegance. This is Beaujolais to chill lightly and serve at Thanksgiving instead of Beaujolais Nouveau, or to drink year-round with salmon, vegetarian dishes, or a low-key cheese and sauccisson plate.
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