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Lovers of soft, silky Cru Beaujolais that offers the impossible-to-resist combination of sappy fruit, fresh flowers, and granitic minerality: We have found your secret potion! But it doesn’t come from the usual suspects like Morgon or Fleurie. Instead, we are traveling to the smallest, northernmost Cru of Saint-Amour. As its cupid-like name suggests, the wines here are known for an abundance of pretty red fruit, rose petals, and an almost ethereal sensuality. But Michel Tête and his son Sylvain upped the ante considerably by sourcing entirely from one of the only lieu-dits allowed on the label, “Les Capitans.” With old vines and meticulous farming, they produce a wine that can be swooned over like a fresh-cut flower today, or stowed away in the cellar for years of romance and enjoyment. And with our special pricing, it is easy to do both! Just put six or more bottles in your cart and get an additional 10% off what is already a heart-pounding value!
For more than four decades, Michel Tête has quietly produced traditional, low-intervention Beaujolais in his home village of Juliénas. This ancient winegrowing area (the name dates back to Julius Caesar, so that counts as old) has the perfect combination of granite-heavy soils, warm sunshine, and cooling winds to coax the Gamay grape into producing perfumed, sumptuous wine that is both perfectly refreshing and constantly interesting. Michel’s wines were first noticed by now-legendary importers Denyse Louis and Joe Dressner back in the late 1980s, and were in that first wave of Cru Beaujolais producers that quietly began to gain traction in top restaurants on both coasts. For a variety of reasons, Tête hasn’t yet hit the same high-water mark of notoriety as some of his peers—Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Yvonne Metras—but among the most devoted Beaujolais lovers he is highly regarded.
These days it is Michel’s son, Sylvain, who is doing the heavy lifting in the vineyards and cellar, but his dad is still very involved. And little has changed. They do partial carbonic maceration in concrete tanks and age in the same tanks or in neutral barrels. Farming is key: they work sustainably with organic practices and limit the yields if nature doesn’t do that for them. The focus is on clean, quality fruit that showcases their special terroirs. Most of said terroirs are in Juliénas, but the Têtes also have a small, prized parcel of old vines in neighboring Saint-Amour. The “Les Capitans” vineyard is one of the few lieu-dit vineyards here that can be cited on the label. This cru has very similar soils, crushed granite, to its next-door neighbor Juliénas, but it is often even cooler. That said, “Les Capitans” is actually the warmest site in Saint-Amour and typically produces the most balanced, age-worthy wines in the appellation. It is a speciality for the Tête family, and the only version we know of that exists on the market today.
Sommeliers and wine geeks who take a deep dive into the 10 crus of Beaujolais always struggle to find a truly “spot-on” Saint-Amour. Well, that struggle is over when you discover Tête’s “Les Capitans.” The wine is pitch-perfect pretty, loaded with aromas of wild strawberries, raspberries, rose petals, violets, cinnamon, clove, barely ripe plum, green peppercorn, and that distinct, granite-induced, rocky minerality. Burgundy fanatics who are very astute know that at its pinnacle Saint-Amour can compare to its similarly named distant cousin to the north: Chambolle-Musigny “Les Amoureuses.” The Tête bottling does exactly that, and at a tiny fraction of the cost. If you open it soon, I would decant for at least an hour to allow the heady perfume to fully emerge. Serve it cool, around 55 degrees, in a Burgundy stem, next to a grilled salmon burger, and you will fall in love with Beaujolais all over again.
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