“It is clearly one of the very finest Cru Beaujolais producers in the firmament of the region today and an estate that I plan to be drinking with great regularity from this point forward… These are clearly some of the most pure, expressive and refined examples of Cru Beaujolais to be found in the region, and the domaine clearly deserves to be more widely known amongst the Beaujolais cognoscenti.”
- John Gilman, View from the Cellar #28
In 1821 the mayor of Chénas, Jean-Marie Loron, began exporting the wines Beaujolais and Mâcon around the world. After taking over the business some years later, Jean-Marie’s son married one of the daughters of the Charlet family in 1852. Her family owned the Clos de Billards vineyard in Saint Amour and, following the marriage, the two businesses merged. By the 1900’s the Loron family was one of the most famous négotiants in Beaujolais, with holdings in almost all of the famous crus. Unlike other négotiants, however, the individual domaines continued to produce their wine independently using the traditional methods they always had. Six generations later, this venerable family is still firmly rooted in the region and still producing outstanding Beaujolais. The wines are made by Xavier and Gregory Barbet, direct decedents of the original owners, and are labeled under the Barbet name.
This is seriously old-school winemaking: after hand-harvesting, the grapes undergo semi-carbonic maceration in vats using only indigenous yeasts. The wines are then aged half in cement tanks and half in large old wooden foudres with a light fining before bottling. Although delicious when young, the wines are incredibly age-worthy. A recent tasting of wines ranging back into the mid-1970’s showed great intensity and complexity without any sign of fatigue.
The Beaujolais region is finally getting the recognition it deserves and the Barbets are a perfect example of why; these are impressive wines with surprising complexity and elegance. They would not be out of place in any collector’s cellar nor on the table with your next meal. Luckily, good Beaujolais is still one of the great values in French wine.
There is a personal connection for us too:
“Owner Xavier Barbet is my wife’s first cousin and I have spent many a good time with him and his family. It was he-with four cases of cru Beaujolais as a wedding gift-who got me into wine, and I am very happy and excited to be able to work together.” – David Bowler
The Château de Fleurie, property of Chantal and Anders Boisen, dominates a beautiful vineyard owned by the Boisen and the Barbet families who are direct descendant of the 1st owner. It is a lovely small Château built in the 18th century. Under the winery a vaulted cellar holds an impressive store of oak barrels. Situated in the heart of the village, the Château dominates the vineyard and has views to Mont Blanc in the east. It covers 28 acres stretching over the best sites in Fleurie - les Grands Fers, la Madone and le Point du Jour on the middle slopes facing south-east. The soil is of a very pure granite, ideal for a good drainage, with a pink colour called “le gore”. Farming is very traditional and natural. Hand picked, the wine making process is extended to 12-15 days, in vats covered by a weighted grill, to extract more body. Six months in casks gives smoothness and roundness to this wine and accentuates its exuberant red fruit aromas. Fleurie is locally Queen of the beaujolais because of its smoothness and delicacy. Ideal with roasts, lamb and white meat dishes, it can age 2 or 3 years and up to 10-15 years for good vintages.
Review Score: 92+
Review Score: 91