Day 23: FRV 100 Rosé Rocks
Jean Paul Brun does fruit like the Black Eyed Peas do dance/pop. In other words there’s nothing too esoteric going on but it gets your feet moving and it hits the spot. I tasted the Terres Dorées FRV 100 Rosé for the first time earlier this year. I didn’t taste mineral, brett or any secondary or tertiary character that I can brag about but I did get a mouthful of pure unadulterated fruit delivered with a gentle, playful fizz. It reminded me of a bowl of summer berries. I had found the perfect vin de soif and I confess this bottle made me want to boogie.
Jean Paul Brun first made his méthode ancestrale FRV 100 (say the name in French and it sounds like “Effervescent”) rosé in 2002 after taking a liking to Alain Renardat’s [of Domaine Renardat-Fâche] excellent Cerdon du Bugey. The still wine was fermented in tank and got its cherry-hue from the saignée method. Like the cerdon méthode ancestrale wines, FRV has residual sweetness because it was bottled before fermentation was complete. And here’s where it stands apart from traditional method sparkling – the second fermentation is spontaneous using only the lees from the first fermentation. And did I mention that it’s only 7.5% alc? I’m having this with breakfast, for aperitif and when I’m in the mood for Black Eyed Peas over Stravinsky. I’ll be damned if this wine doesn’t make you smile.
Fruit-driven wines (like pop music) have a tendency to drive the geeks away but a sip of Jean Paul Brun’s wine is a lesson on how wine can emphasize fruit without the overkill. You’ll never find gobs of fruit in his Chardonnay or Gamay let alone that weird fake banana/bubblegum taste (thanks to the ubiquitous 71B lab yeast). Jean Paul Brun is part of an unofficial group of producers (Lapierre, Charmette, Desvignes, Roilette and more) in the region that make real Gamay. He doesn’t inoculate and his wines are sometimes too natural for the AOC – in 2007 his Beaujolais l’Ancien was considered much too unusual to make the classified Beaujolais cut.
Terres Dorées wines are a little like the winemaker himself – they are quirky and honest. He has these piercing blue eyes that practically twinkle when he grins. I went to visit his domaine in Charnay not long after the harvest of that crazy hot year in 2003. As we were driving around the village looking for Terres Dorées we came to a cardboard sign that had an arrow, drawn out in felt tip pen, pointing to his property. I may have exaggerated this scene in my mind but Denyse Louis of Louis/Dressner Selections recently confirmed, “He still has the worst sign in the whole of Beaujolais.”
We tasted his wines in tank. At the time he wasn’t making crus and his wines were devoid of pretension. We tasted what was then his soon-to-be-released Beaujolais Nouveau 2003 – it was juicy and expressed the intense heat of that summer. JPB wasn’t freaked out: he was getting whatever the vintage gave him. His property was a lot smaller then. Terres Dorées has since expanded to include a Morgon, a Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs, Fleurie, Côte de Brouilly and he is the winemaker for some family vineyards in the northern Rhone (Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie). I’m intrigued to taste the latter two. His wines are easily found New York and I’ve seen them at some cute little wine stores in London (Zelas – the only natural wine shop in the city that I know of – in Highgate are fans). Despite [or because of?] AOC hassles his wines have an excellent following but I just hope he never gets a posh new sign pointing to his domaine in Charnay.
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Up next: Guilhaume Gerard’s Natural Wine Dogma; or: Did someone just throw a rock through my window?