Château Javernand, Chiroubles "Vieilles Vignes"
Château Javernand, Chiroubles "Vieilles Vignes"

Château Javernand, Chiroubles "Vieilles Vignes"

Beaujolais, France 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$37.00
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Château Javernand, Chiroubles "Vieilles Vignes"

There are 10 Crus in Beaujolais, but if you take clues from social media and wine press you would think there are only three or four, with Morgon and Fleurie getting the lion’s share of attention these days. And hey, those Crus produce many excellent wines, but if you want our prediction of Bojo Cru of the future, then it’s time to talk Chiroubles! If you read up on this supremely underrated Cru, you’ll learn that its vineyards climb to the highest elevations in the region (400+ meters in some spots). Because of its generally cooler microclimate, Chiroubles is known to produce some of the most high-toned, perfumed, red-fruited expressions of the Gamay grape, and as the summers in France continue getting hotter, this is increasingly a delicious asset. While many of the more famous Crus made overripe, uncharacteristic wines in 2020, the Javernand Chiroubles is an instant classic: Floral, delicate, and a refreshing joy to drink!

Arthur Forneau and Pierre Prost of Château de Javernand produce vivid, precise wines from out-of-the-way, relatively unsung vineyards (wait until you try their magnificent Mâcon Chardonnay later today), and while their old-vine Chiroubles is the kind of red that can seem to disappear in an instant, it doesn’t fade from memory one bit. It has that magic ability of the best Cru Beaujolais to be both refreshingly drinkable and seriously complex. It’s a true “desert island wine,” and it’s priced for everyday drinking wherever you are. But that does not mean it lacks pedigree. The Château de Javernand is a striking 18th-century estate with a long winemaking history. Its 50 hectares of vineyards are perched on the steep slopes of Chiroubles (if you look at a soil map of Chiroubles you’ll see the Javernand vineyards designated as a lieu-dit), overlooking the Saône Valley. The soils here are the same pink granite found in Fleurie, while the landscape is a touch more rugged, with some of the steepest grades in Beaujolais.

Javernand’s current proprietors, Arthur Forneau and Pierre Prost, are old friends who first met in engineering school. It was Arthur’s great-grandfather, August Faye, a wine merchant from Mâcon, who purchased the Javernand property in 1917. In both the Javernand vineyards and the 6.5 hectares they farm in the nearby Mâcon, Arthur and Pierre have made organic farming their top priority, with an emphasis on biodiversity. In the case of their “Vieilles Vignes” (old vines) cuvée, the designation really has some teeth: The source parcels are nearly 70 years old.

Nevertheless, while we tend to associate old vines with massively concentrated wines, here they lend persistence and complexity to a delicate, quite Pinot Noir-ish expression of Gamay (don’t forget, the two are related!). This 2020 was made via “semi-carbonic” maceration and aged eight months in concrete tanks before bottling, creating a glistening ruby-red beauty redolent of fresh rose petals, wild strawberry, Bing cherry, pomegranate, violets, crushed stones, and a dash of black pepper. It is medium-bodied, with barely-there tannins, modest alcohol, and lots of freshness lending crunch and lift. Decanting is never a bad idea though not necessary, but a cooler temperature really is: Serve at about 55-60 degrees, in some nice Burgundy stems that will really highlight this wine’s extremely pretty nature. It would have made a pitch-perfect Thanksgiving wine, but no matter—this is about as versatile as red wine gets, so pull some corks and get to cooking. Cheers!

Château Javernand, Chiroubles "Vieilles Vignes"
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