The wines of Dutraive are some of the most sought-after in Beaujolais. They have managed to escape terminal-velocity and now orbit in the same scarcity / price trajectory that Yvon Metras inhabits.
Having spent the day with solid high-achiever Guy Breton, I was drawn to buy a bottle of Dutraive’s 2018 Fleurie Cuvee Champagne to try and make some sort of evaluation. I’ve talked to good numbers of his fans, a sommelier in Lyon who worked harvest with Jean-Louis, who rates his wines as the best of all.
When you try and buy a wine like Dutriave from his wine-list in Cafe Terroirs he says: C’est Complique. Getting wines from Dutraive is, naturalement, Complique. Why it is complique, is not always tres clair. Probably the usual, not much wine, fragmented distribution, so everyone has 6 – 60 bottles, they are reluctant to sell, but they are too morally conscientious to put the price up. Donc, c’est complique.
We started the day with Guy Breton, P’tit Max, who continues to look a poster-boy for a sup of Gamay each day. He suggested a drop in my sons milk. Un Bebe Bourgignon, he said in praise of little Williams bonnie weight and stature. His 2018s were typically superb, a healthy vintage, full of joie de vivre, and from the brisk numbers of visitors during our visit, doing a bonnie trade. The 2015 Morgon VV that he pulled out for comparison was most interesting, a real Grand Vin, full and expressive. I think he is very proud of this wine in a very challenging season, and one that runs against his usual style of svelte, expressive wines that are not carrying any excess fat.
As usual, I feel his Regnie is the standout outside the Morgons. When I asked why he doesn’t put the price up, he said he felt the appellation of Regnie was not particularly well known, then made some joke at my expense that the table found very amusing, and not understanding it myself, at risk of looking like a total boob, thought I might hedge my bets by joining in their laughter. Him: My English client is an idiot! Me: Ha ha ha,
Before getting back to the appartment, we happened upon the wine shop “Le Troisieme Fleuve”. This 3rd Fleuve of the title refers to the river of Beaujolais that flows into Lyon alongside the Saone and Rhone.
The 2018 Cuvee Champagne was drunk out of my son’s plastic milk top. My rental apartment had only one wine glass, which gentleman that I am, gave to my partner. Nevertheless, some thoughts about Dutraive based on this bottle and others in the past.
- They can flaunt with faultiness. This bottle was on the edge, the other one I drank recently was I think flawed, a 2014 Fleurie Grand Coeur.
- The colour is not clear, they are very transparently put in bottle.
- There is great complexity and definition, with high acidity. Which makes me think they are picked earlier then a producers like Breton, Foillard, Lapierre, Thevenet, who perhaps strive for more in the way of expressive fruit.
- This sense of minerality / acidity / extract that comes from less ripe fruit is a meta-theme of very trendy wines with a certain segment of the population, of which I might be one.
- I put the wine in the fridge and have just finished the other half enjoying France has talent (See Punk Accordian player below — 3 yes’s BTW) and the mousiness was really quite marked on the second evening.
- Verdict: In the words of Bill Nanson, rebuy – no! Not for me. I do applaud in one sense, producers like this, Metras, and Desjourney who are reframing Beaujolais in different directions. But for my very closeted personal drinking, it is not a direction I particularly want to go unless someone else is paying. I do like the wines, but got a bloody kid to look after, after all.. C’est complique.