By Keize Mumba, Head Sommelier at Grub & Vine and Culture Wine Bar

On our second day in Burgundy, we woke up to summer rains which increased humidity. This sent grape growers scrambling to spray their vineyards for fungal diseases using thin, tall ‘AI’ looking tractors that only move forward! 

Our first tasting was at Domaine des Nugues with owner and winemaker Gilles Gelin, an eccentric man and a true Beaujolais hero. Most of his peers whom he studied winemaking with 15 years ago moved on to other life’s pursuits, he remained loyal to his hometown and its heartbeat – wine. 

That day, Gilles graciously stopped spraying his vineyards just to come, meet us and open up his entire range of 2022 vintage; Beaujolais-Lance – white, rose and rouge. Crus range; Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin-A-Vent. He then went to his cellar and brought more wine; his Crus range of 2021s, 2020s, and 2018s and some of his unlabelled stuff! And this was just in the morning before we even had breakfast…what a man! 

I particularly liked his Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais-Lance 2020, from Lance, a village bordering Moulin à Vent, Fleurie and Morgon Cru appellations. It displayed juicy black plum and strawberry flavours with soft gentle tannins and refreshing acidity. No wonder Gilles has been pushing for Lance to be recognised as one of the Crus of Beaujolais.

After the tasting, we gathered supplies for our own lunch: pork and lamb terrines, French cheeses and most importantly, bread (Burgundy’s staple).

After lunch, we drove from Château Thivin in Brouilly where we were staying, through Morgon. As we headed towards the exit of Valle Morgon, a signpost read: ‘Domaine Dominique Piron’. We exited Morgon and drove through Fleurie, the terrain changed from vineyards on flat land to vineyards on gentle slopes. We followed a steep road taking us up the mountain, we turned right and headed towards Chiroubles! Here, vineyards are planted at altitudes of 495 meters above sea level, the highest in Beaujolais.

We took a sharp descent, turned left, another left, and came up to Domaine de la Grosse Pierre, a small family-owned estate run by the only female winemaker I met while in Beaujolais, Pauline Passot, who recently took over from her father. Pauline worked as a Sommelier in Michelin-star restaurants in Lyon and has done harvests all around the world. 

Her style of wines is thus food-friendly and pairs well with the traditional Beaujolais cuisine of rich terrines and cheeses. Her wines are terroir-driven using higher percentages of carbonic and semi-carbonic techniques and are characterised by bright acidities and crunchy red fruit flavours with soft tannins – a major shift from her father’s style of bold and higher alcohol wines. The Domaine de la Grosse Fleurie 2022 showed exceptionally well, still very youthful though.

From here, we visited Pauline’s husband Matthieu Mélinand, who runs Domaine Des  Marrans, in Fleurie. Matthieu is old-school, makes clean wines, fermented in steel tanks and matured in old format oak, some in smaller barrels. He took us down into his cellar and we tasted through his barrel wines of the 2022 vintage. Afterwards, we sat down on a long table and cracked through his bottled range of 2021s. His Morgon Climat Corcelette (both the 2022 from the barrel and 2021 from the bottle) was outstanding – it showed juicy blackberry, sweet spice and a richer texture.

You can also join me for our next edition of Culture Club, where we focus on Beaujolais and Burgundy, on 31 August – book your seat here!