Jean-Claude LAPALU

Jean- Claude Lapalu - vins du BeaujolaisYou will not find any comments on its wines in the French guides. Jean-Claude Lapalu is one of those rare Beaujolais winemakers who have not waited for their designation - sometimes synonymous with light new wines - to return to the front of the French scene to build an international reputation, where the popular belief have less Importance than...

Jean- Claude Lapalu - vins du BeaujolaisYou will not find any comments on its wines in the French guides. Jean-Claude Lapalu is one of those rare Beaujolais winemakers who have not waited for their designation - sometimes synonymous with light new wines - to return to the front of the French scene to build an international reputation, where the popular belief have less Importance than the intrinsic quality of the contents of the bottle. Why submit samples to the guides, when all the production goes abroad and the customers are contingent? For personal satisfaction? There is no inordinate Ego among the Lapalu. A simple passion for work well done.

Certainly, the knowledge of the winemaker and his quasi-religion of organic Beaujolais were highlighted by Robert Parker, who during his first visit (Jean-Claude Lapalu does not send his samples to critics ... but does not refuse their visits!) grants notes rarely reached by Beaujolais in its 2003 vintage (94/100 for the Brouilly "Vieilles Vignes" and the "Cuvée des Fous"!), And that puts it back in 2009 (92-93 / 100 For "La Croix des Rameaux") and in 2011 and 2012 (93/100 for the same vintage) and 2013 (92/100 for the Côte de Brouilly).

Today, the Lpalu's Beaujolais (installed since 1996) are available in France at a few good wine shops and on some large tables (Taillevent, Drouant, Le Grand Véfour), but hardly more. Fortunately, the ineffable hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Lapalu allowed us to seal in 2013 our partnership "all France" around a beautiful blanquette ... and a Croix des Rameaux 2011 that would have deserved to age ... but impatience to discover this new vintage barely bottled (without filtration as usual) and stocks already exhausted was too large ...

Most lovers of great wines are tired of Cabernet, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah and other Pinot Noir or Chardonnay; to name only the stars of Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Rhone. It is time to discover what is capable of proposing a great black gamay with white juice! Not to mention the unavoidable value (difficult to evoke, it is so subjective!), These wines present above all an incomparable fruit, and a "drinkability" to any test. Headache, me? Never !

Of course, very personal viticulture and winemaking methods are important. Knowing its terroir at the tips of its fingers, one single vineyard - like the others never exposed to phytosanitary products - is vinified completely destemmed, another - like the others harvested by hand - in whole clusters that are always very ripe, without any input , Sulfur, etc.). In short, a respect for nature and indecent yields (20 hl / ha on certain terroirs) which are found in wines still thin and ripe, which must be discovered at 15-16 ° C, after revealing aeration.

Our selection of vintages:

    Tentation: cuvée made for an immediate discovery "on the fruit", when the vintages more crested reserve great moments after a few years of guard (5 to 10 years in a good cellar), even if the impatients can quickly appreciate the complexity.
    La Croix Rameau
    Brouilly Vieilles Vignes
    Côtes de Brouilly
    Le rang Merle


Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
: Since taking over his father’s domaine in 1996, Jean-Claude has been making some of the region’s finest Beaujolais over his scattering of parcels. I summarized the history in last year’s report when I finally visited for the first time. Returning to his very basic winemaking facility just outside Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne, I found Jean-Claude sunning himself outside awaiting my arrival. He had bottled a majority of his 2015s and abides by biodynamic tenets in the vineyard and in the winery, having been certified by Ecocert in 2010. Having said that, Jean-Claude likes to tinker around and has some interesting cuvées that occasionally offer an alternative perspective upon Beaujolais, as evinced by his clay amphorae stationed at one end of the winery. “It was a warm season,” he told me when I began tasting his 2015s. “The harvest began on 24 August and took 8 or 9 days and I was picking around 12 degrees potential alcohol. But the sugar increased rapidly and for some of the younger 15-year-old vines, it reached 15.5 degrees. I followed the advice of old winemakers. They always say it's better to pick too early than too late in a precocious season. So although some alcohol levels were high they have very good acidity, with pH levels between 3.30 and 3.55. I just prolonged the maceration to guard the freshness.” For the uninitiated, Jean-Claude’s wine can almost overwhelm you with their vibrancy and vivacity. I find these wines honest in a way that not every cuvée is going to be a success; rather, they reflect the growing season warts ‘n all. Fortunately there are very few warts in his wines although occasionally in 2015 I felt the wine was a little too forceful at the expense of terroir expression. But check out his brilliant Côte de Brouilly for a wine that encapsulates great Beaujolais – so delicious and succulent, yet with fantastic terroir expression and freshness.

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Jean-Claude LAPALU

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