2010 Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly la Croix des Rameau

Year: 2010
Appellation: Beaujolais
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 91-92
Red Wine
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"Lapalu’s 2010 Brouilly Croix des Rameaux – from an exposed, high-elevation, late-harvested parcel and tasted as a pre-assemblage from older barrique – is more concentrated as well as focused than this year’s Cuvee des Fous, which explains why he reversed his usual serving order. Black raspberry and cassis shadowed by framboise distillate and almond extract inform the nose as well as a finely-tannic yet (despite modest alcohol) glycerin-rich and (given the absence of sulfur) surprisingly vivacious palate, with suggestions of iodine, walnut oil, crushed stone and salt informing a piquant, mouthwatering, vibrant finish. Ideally stored, this should be deliciously fascinating to follow over the next half dozen years.

Jean-Claude Lapalu – for more details about whose methodology and individual cuvees consult my report in issue 190 – continues as a restless, risk-taking experimenter, charting paths where others anticipate dragons and danger. Lapalu’s 2010 Beaujolais-Villages Tentation was a bit awkwardly CO2-laced, seemingly having re-fermented slightly in bottle, but this early, virtually sulfur-free release pitched towards France’s self-proclaimed natural wine devotees and toward fashionable wine bars so-oriented had probably nearly all been drunk-up by the time I tasted it! After that, things got decidedly more serious, though, at the same time, fun-filled. While yields at this estate are always low, at 34 hectoliter per hectare Lapalu’s 2010 crop – which he picked from the 20-30 September – slightly exceeded that of 2009. Finished alcohols in 2010 hover around 13%, a welcome, well more than one percent departure from Lapalu’s 2009 norm, and he was able to achieve malo-lactic transformations in the course of the alcoholic fermentations, which be believes enhances purity and stability of fruit character.” (WA)

Winery Notes:
Thirty-something Jean-Claude Lapalu assumed control of just under 30 acres of Gamay from his father in 1996 and made his first commercial wines in 2000. His eight parcels of east and southeast facing vines are scattered from Mont Brouilly south through the rolling hills of Odenas and his hometown of Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne. Jean-Claude’s most significant early influence came from the writings of Jules Chauvet, France’s Father of Natural Winemaking. A bon copain of Cornas biodynamo Matthieu Barret, Jean-Claude now follows a self-prescribed biodynamic regimen, and will seek the Biodyvin seal of approval after the domaine receives its organic certification from Ecocert this year. Jean-Claude produces small lots of six distinct Gamays, each expressing different aspects of the Haut-Beaujolais’ diverse geology. Last year, Domaine Lapalu debuted in the 2009 edition of La Revue du Vin’s annual Classement des Meilleurs Vins de France (Best Wines of France). La Revue’s tasting panel writes, “We were seduced by the quality of his wines...We salute the pursuit of maturity and concentration, which inevitably requires effort in limiting yields and taking risks in pushing the date of harvest (translation).”