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.
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.
L’Ancien comes from Jean Paul’s oldest vines–hence the name of the wine–in his home village of Charnay in the southern Beaujolais. They range in age from 40 to 60 years old and are planted on slopes sporting the area’s signature sandy clay-limestone soils, featuring the particular local “dorée” or “golden” limestone that is laden with iron. These older vines have always been farmed organically and harvested by hand and yield small, thick-skinned Gamay berries. As for all Terres Dorées reds, the vinification is traditional Burgundian. The grapes are rigorously sorted and destemmed, crushed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats. The wine is aged in concrete until May-June after the vintage.
Beaujolais l’Ancien offers up a classy bouquet of sweet cherries, liquorice and savoury bass notes. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with supple and fine-grained but youthfully chewy structuring tannins and a long, sapid finish.