As Beaujolais Nouveau Day rolled around, I hunted for a bottle of cru Beaujolais, something to compare side-by-side with the fresh 2017 vintage Nouveau announced on every wine shop sandwich board. It wasn’t a difficult pursuit; there were at least 15 cru options available, most from tried-and-true producers that have grown more popular each year.
Tucked among the familiar options, however, was one unknown to me, but from an extremely recognizable vineyard: the Pierre Savoye “Côte du Py” Morgon Vieilles Vignes. Old-vine cru Beaujolais from perhaps the most lauded vineyard in the region for just $20? I eagerly dove into the unfamiliar.
As cru Beaujolais has gained popularity among the trade, winemakers and buyers have gotten nerdier about the region’s specificities. Serious wine lovers have gone beyond dissecting the differences between crus, and now focus on individual vineyard sites. Morgon, the second-largest and most widely available cru in the U.S., is recognized as having six distinct vineyard sites, or climats, on the slopes to the south of Villié-Morgon. The most famous of these vineyards is the lauded Côte du Py, its iron-rich granite and schist soils said to make the highest-quality, most deeply concentrated wines in Morgon. While even some large producers are making single-vineyard Côte du Py cuvées now, Jean Foillard is certainly the most highly regarded vintner in this climat, his bottles retailing for anywhere between $30 and $50.
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Made from Gamay vines with at least 60 years of age, the Pierre Savoye “Côte du Py” Morgon Vieilles Vignes is a rustic yet solid style of cru Beaujolais, with tart red and black cherry fruit, barnyard funk, and balsamic scents on the nose. Medium-bodied on the palate, the tart, tangy fruit carries through, with savory, salty notes, and distinct black and pink rock minerality. While the Savoye might sacrifice a bit of elegance, it is an expressive, textured, layered cru Beaujolais that remains an absolute steal at nearly half the price of its Côte du Py neighbors.