Jean-Paul Brun started Terres Dorées in 1979 with a mere 4 hectares of vines in Charnay in the southern Beaujolais, an area which is slightly warmer and more limestone-driven versus the more renowned granite-rich cru villages in the northern Beaujolais. Today, the Charnay estate is around 30 acres, but with an additional 15 hectares farmed in the crus. The farming in Charnay is organic and includes working of the soils; the cru parcels are farmed sustainably and the soils are not worked. Harvest is by hand and of well-ripened but not over-ripened fruit, so alcohol levels are generally modest. Annual Terres Dorées production is around 350,000 bottles, 85-90% of it from estate fruit with the rest of it sourced.
From the beginning, Jean-Paul carved a different path for himself in Beaujolais. Not only does he not chaptalize (common practice here), he has also always eschewed the relatively modern technique of carbonic maceration, in favor of traditional Burgundian vinification. His feeling was and remains that the character of Gamay and its varied terroirs is obscured by whole-cluster fermentation, as well as by the use of commercial yeasts and copious sulfur. He has never strayed from that philosophy, continuing to carefully sort and destem his grapes; add no yeast; add no sulfur (until a touch at bottling); allow for several weeks’ maceration; do regular pigeage or punchdowns; and age in a combination of concrete and old oak, varying with vintage and wine.
Jean-Paul is not an adherent or advocate of “natural wine” per se, yet is among the most natural of Beaujolais vignerons, uninterested in trend or fashion but deeply committed to purity of expression of fruit and site. The individuality of those expressions–the fact that each is a different wine from all of the others–is intentionally emphasized by hiss choice to label every one of his many bottlings with a completely different label.
The 2019 Fleurie Grille-Midi opens in the glass with notes of red fruit compote, cherries, rose petals and liquorice. Medium to full-bodied, elegant and melting, with powdery tannins and lively acids, it’s seamless and complete. If this isn’t as dramatic out of the gates as its brilliant 2018 counterpart, it is, by the same token, more classically balanced and will delight purists. [94 Points, William Kelley – August 2021, robertparker.com]