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We’ve long labeled Grégoire Hoppenot the “next big thing.” He’s floored us for years now with unforgettably elegant bottlings of Beaujolais, above all his Fleurie “Les Moriers.” Like past vintages, today’s 2020 sings with that effusive, wild-berry charm we crave in great Cru Beaujolais, yet it’s underpinned with a seriously Burgundian structure only genuine masters of Gamay can achieve. No surprise then that the rest of the world has seemingly caught on to what a genius Grégoire is. His wines now appear on the lists of Michelin-starred restaurants across New York City and San Francisco. Good for Grégoire, but a little sad for us; his wines will only be harder to find in the future. The best course of action then? Load up on this stunning beauty while you can!
Grégoire Hoppenot has lived and breathed Beaujolais all his life. He was born in the region and first rose to winemaking prominence at Trénel, the Beaujolais négociant project headed by Michel Chapoutier. After working for years with Gamay from the best sites across the Beaujolais Crus, he struck out on his own. He established a little farmstead atop a hill in Fleurie and quickly set about purchasing land in the region’s most famous vineyards. He now farms parcels in Morgon’s “Corcelette”—made famous by Beaujolais legends Jean Foillard and Daniel Bouland – and even has a monopole called “Clos de l’Amandier.” But for my money, it’s with Fleurie’s “Les Moriers” site that we see the greatest synergy between vigneron and vineyard.
“Les Moriers” perches atop Fleurie, right over the border with Moulin-à-Vent. Ancient granite soils here imbue the fruit with a textural rigor and minerality that recalls the structure of long-lived red Burgundy. In fact, according to an unofficial 1847 classification of the village's vineyards that some Fleurie winemakers now say should be turned into law, “Les Moriers” ranks as a first-growth. And while “Les Morieres” is unabashedly serious Beaujolais, it also never lacks for the high-toned floral lift and swoon-worthy fruit Fleurie is so prized for. This cuvée has quickly become one of our very favorite bottlings in the entire region.
Grégoire describes his cellar practices as sans fard, meaning “without makeup,” allowing the spectacular terroir he works to shine through. He ferments whole clusters in large concrete tanks, with carbonic maceration in the traditional Beaujolais style. After a maceration lasting up to a month, the wine is racked to used Burgundy barrels, where it ages for eight months and is bottled with minimal sulfur. I suggest treating this as you would great Pinot Noir, serving it in a wide Burgundy bowl at just above cellar temp. Right from the first pour, the nose explodes with wave after wave of plummy red fruit, fresh blackberries, raspberry jam, rose petals, dried violets, freshly turned earth, pulverized granite, and struck flint. The first thing you notice upon taking a sip is the refreshing yet serious structure, vibrant acidity framing the joyous fruit within, with fine, almost sandy tannins just making their presence felt. “Les Moriers” offers up undeniable immediate pleasure, but I have no doubt it will easily reward five or more years in your cellar. Just act quickly or you might miss out on Beaujolais’ newest legend!
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