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The Desvignes family have been Morgon vignerons since the mid-1700's. Claude-Emmanuelle and her brother Louis-Benoît are the 8th generation. Their father had been selling off fifty percent of the family fruit, and they ended that practice and began bottling the entire production under the Desvignes label. Their 13 hectares of vines lie exclusively in the cru of Morgon, which of the 10 Beaujolais crus produces some of the most long-lived and complex wines, thanks to high concentration of schist and manganese in its soils. The Desvignes holdings are divided into numerous small parcels, with the vines averaging 70 years old. Farming is organic, and they work the soils actively. Harvest is by hand and typically later than many growers in the quest for full ripeness.
Desvignes bottles four wines. The largest bottling is La Voute Saint-Vincent, the most fruit-forward, easy-drinking of their structured style of wines, a blend of parcels in Douby, north of the town of Villié-Morgon. The next bottling comes from the family's 3 hectares in the most famous part of Morgon, the schistous Côte du Py. Within the Côte du Py, they also have mainly very old vines in a notable lieu-dit called Javernières with sandy limestone soils--from this site they bottle two wines, a "regular" Javernières, which includes the few younger (30-year-old) vines in the mix, and the smallest bottling of all, Les Impénitents, which features vines planted from 1912-1914.
In the cellar, Desvignes employs what is generally referred to as "traditional" vinification in Beaujolais, which is to say semi-carbonic, fermenting mainly whole-cluster fruit in open-top tanks. The amount of destemmed-vs.-whole-cluster fruit and the maceration time vary with vintage and parcels. For gradual extraction, Desvignes allows the fermentation and maceration to go long and uses a grill to keep the cap submerged rather than punching it down. There are only concrete vats: Louis-Benoît has commented that "barrels are like make-up". Sulfur is used judiciously, varying with the vintage. The wines are lightly fined and sometimes filtered.
Desvignes aims to make more tannic, long-lived wines; theirs have a reputation for a tendency to "pinotize", as they say in Beaujolais, to compliment Gamay that shows itself as more Pinot-like with age.
For importer Louis/Dressner's estate profile and interview with Claude-Emmanuelle, click here.
For Desvignes' own website, click here.
For an interesting article on the terroir and times in Beaujolais by Jon Bonné in Punch, click here.