Georges Descombes Chiroubles 'Vieilles Vignes' 2019
Discounts loaded for 12 or more bottles mixed
Descombes is one of the stalwarts of Beaujolais. Inspired by the late Marcel Lapierre in the early 1980s when he worked for his father’s bottling company. He is one of the more well-known of the natural producers since taking over the domaine in the hamlet of Vermont from his father in 1988, with all but a half a hectare to his name. Some refer to him as the unofficial fifth member of the “Gang of Four” (Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Guy Breton). Nowadays, he farms selections in Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais and Chiroubles, the vineyard husbandry organic (certified Ecocert) and using just copper and sulfur.” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
Georges' wines are firmly in the "natural" camp and his farming is certified organic - not always the case among other natural producers in Beaujolais. Grapes are hand-harvested in whole clusters and pressed very slowly in an old vertical press with modern, precise pressure control, fermented with natural yeasts in a long, low temperature semi-carbonic maceration - minimal or zero sulfur is used, only before bottling. (Approximately 10 - 20 mg/L in 2018.) Descombes is a true master of this type of winemaking - starting of course with great farming, bringing out beautifully complex aromas and gorgeous fruit on the palate, undiminished by excess SO2, beautifully balanced, clean and long. In short, the Descombes wines are among the finest and most consistent in Beaujolais!
Tucked away up in the hills between Morgon and Fleurie, Chiroubles has often been described as “the most Beaujolais of the ten crus of Beaujolais.” In other words, everything that makes wines from this region so lovable, low alcohol, explosive flowery aromas, high-toned juicy fruit are all intensified in Chiroubles.
As much as I love Burgundy, there are times that the occasion calls for a beautiful Beaujolais. And a sticky night in June is just such an occasion. And with a magret of duck from the Greenmarket and sautéed tatsoi, the newly-arrived Georges Descombes 2019 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes beckons. The robe is a marvellous mulberry purple. The nose is perfumed, with pretty notes of black raspberry, wild cherry, graphite, and spice. The ripe (but lithe) palate balances a juicy freshness of red berry and plum character with a fine-grained, earthy undercurrent of structure. But at the moment the ebullient fruit is singing with grilled duck breast (though I wouldn’t hesitate to pair with salmon, roasted zucchini and carrots with salsa verde, or saucisson) and playing off the bitterness of the mustard greens on the plate. This is a cracking bottle of Chiroubles that welcomes a light chill and seemingly banishes humidity. This should be a pleasure to taste over the next couple nights and warrants socking away a few bottles for a more mature drinking experience… John McIlwain CSW