These days, finding outstanding cru Beaujolais in the $20 range is an achievement. Prices of “cru” wines from the 10 villages in the north of Beaujolais whose names are distinct appellations have gone up substantially in recent years, with many now costing upwards of $30.
It was a nice surprise, then, to see this standout from Morgon priced at around $20. Michel Guignier’s 2019 Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” is from a relatively small producer who farms about 27 acres in Morgon and several other Beaujolais appellations.
The property has been certified organic since 2006, and Guignier’s website says the domaine produces “authentic wines whose personality will captivate you.” His Morgon, from vines more than 70 years old, backs up the claim.
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The wine, which is made from Beaujolais’ signature Gamay variety grown in granite and schist soils, has a vibrancy that’s apparent from the first swirls and sips. The aromas transport you to a fruit orchard and suggest a stony minerality.
In the mouth, red and blue fruits dominate and are punctuated by accents of orange spice, earth, and thyme — all with a zesty underlying acidity that makes this more a food wine than a casual sipper.
It cut through the density of a lamb stew, providing a refreshing counterpoint to the dish and dispelling conventional wisdom that Beaujolais must be paired with lighter, less aggressive foods.
Michel Guignier checks off many of the boxes in the “natural wine” playbook: organic farming, as noted; reliance on indigenous (or wild) yeasts instead of cultured yeasts that winemakers purchase, often to give their wines certain desired characteristics; even plowing his vineyards the old-fashioned way: with a horse.
The result is a wine of distinction — a “serious” young Beaujolais that over-delivers on value and taste and will continue to evolve in the years to come.