Friday, July 31, 2009

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Visiting Fleurie in Beaujolais

Between July and August, millions of Europeans take the Autoroute du Soleil to reach the beach resorts of the Mediterranean, but few care to stop and visit the vine covered hills of Beaujolais just south of the Mâcon exit. They are too eager to leave the heavily congested Lyons bypass motorway behind.

It's a pity. There are so many charming villages quietly nested in the hills of Beaujolais. One of them is Fleurie, a small village perched at about 800 feet and overlooking the Saone river valley. From the main square, a narrow winding road leads to a chapel built in 1875 in honor of the Madonna to thank her for protecting the vineyards. From the chapel, there is a superb view of the entire region. The Gamay vines growing on the granite hillside surrounding the chapel are owned by the Desprès family of the nearby Domaine de la Madone.

Driving up to the Chapelle de la Madone

Fleurie and the Saone valley from the Chapelle de la Madone

During our one-night stay in Fleurie, we had the chance to visit that excellent domain and here are the wines that we tasted:

• 2007 Fleurie Domaine de la Madone Tradition: made to be drunk young. The average vine age is 40 years. Garnet color, peppery nose, light-bodied and pleasantly fruity.

• 2007 Fleurie Domaine du Niagara: from a different estate called Niagara and produced by Arnaud Deprès, the son of the family. Deep color, intense aromas of red and black currant on the nose, some tannins on the palate, rather assertive.

• 2007 Fleurie Domaine de la Madone Grille Midi: the Grille Midi is a granite amphitheatre bathed in sunshine. The average vine age is 65 years. Peppery nose, firm backbone on the palate, some tannins, lengthy finish, ageworthy.

• 2007 Fleurie Domaine de la Madone La Madone Cuvée Vieilles Vignes: from the La Madone vineyard, vines averaging 80 years of age, the oldest vine being 116 years. A lot of fruit on the nose, rich and velvety on the palate, ageworthy.

The wines of the Domaine de la Madone

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Saturday, July 25, 2009