Beaujolais, a land of Gamay and the gulpable red wines it produces, gained some unfortunate notoriety for less than stellar quality – in part because it has long been a supplier of inexpensive bistro wine to Paris and Lyon, and also in part due to the Beaujolais Nouveau craze in the 1980s and 1990s. Beaujolais is divided into two main areas: Beaujolais bas to the south was the result of an expansion to much less suitable land that was made in order to meet demand, while the northern part of the region is the original Beaujolais, originally favored by the Romans and then the Benedictine monks, who developed vineyards here as early as the 7th century. It is in this area, with its landscape of gentle, rolling hills based on granite and schist with some limestone, that Gamay reaches its true potential.
Domaine des Marrans is located in Fleurie, in the heart of the northern part of Beaujolais. Current proprietor Jean-Jacques Mélinand succeeded his father in 1970, and his son Mathieu joined him in in 2008 after studying oenology and gaining practical experience in New Zealand and Australia.
With 20 hectares, the Domaine’s main production is in Fleurie, which is renowned for its vivacious wines that have a distinctive floral perfume. The other wines produced include Beaujolais-Villages, bright, lively wine meant to be drunk within a year or two after vintage; Julienas, producing wines of more backbone and ageability; and Chiroubles, which produces some of the lightest, but also some of the most refreshing, wines of the region.
The only varietal grown on the estate is Gamay Noir, which is the same grape responsible for 95% of the production of Beaujolais as a whole and one that is particularly suited for the dry, granitic soils in the area. The Domaine’s vines are relatively old and always pruned in the traditional Gobelet vine-training method. The objective is to produce the best grapes with the least intervention possible.
The harvest is always manual with a very selective sorting to respect the grapes’ integrity. The vinification process is traditional, with whole grape bunches and carbonic maceration, and using only ambient yeasts. Maceration takes 7 to 15 days depending on the specific appellation and vintage. Wines are then matured on their fine lees and bottled after 6-10 months of aging in oak.
The essential point of Beaujolais is that it is a wine to be drunk and enjoyed, not discussed and deconstructed. The juicy aromas and bright acidity combine to make the ultimate appetite stimulant – a great wine to open at your next party and sure to be enjoyed by all. Santé!
Producer: Jean-Jacques and Mathieu Mélinand
Annual Production (of all wines): 65,000 bottles
Farming: organic not certified