New Releases from Yann Bertrand
A few days before the 2021 harvest, we dropped in on Yann Bertrand for a tasting of the new releases and a tour of the newly planted vines in his family vineyards on the sand-heavy lieu-dit ‘Grand Pré,’ located at the southern edge of Fleurie. Yann has been working for a while to hold back a few of his wines each year, so the current releases of 2020 are complemented by Fleurie Vieilles Vignes and Fleurie Chaos 2019, and the Morgon 2020 will be held back for another year in the cave.
2020 is a high-acid, bright vintage that is explosive right away. There are a few small but notable changes in 2020, which Yann was able to make after making a close reading of the appellation rules. Just for the fun of it, the Beaujolais ‘Oh!’ is now reclassified as Beaujolais Superieur ‘Oh!.’ It’s the same wine from century-old vines at the edge of Fleurie. Beaujolais Superieur is a designation that’s forgotten in the area – the Superieur simply refers to a lower allowed yield. Certain appellations are also allowed up to 15% of permitted “cépages accessoires,” or accessory varieties that were historically coplanted with gamay. For the first time, the Juliénas 2020 includes 10% Chardonnay that was co-fermented with Gamay from the same vineyard. Fleurie Folie 2020 is a delicious jolt of Gamay, and the two Fleuries from 2019 clearly benefit from the additional year in bottle.
In the vineyards, Yann has been replanting several parcels over the past few years. Before replanting, he leaves at least three years between removing old vines and planting new ones, using cover crops like buckwheat and sunflowers to renew the soil. Planting a new vineyard that one hopes will last for fifty years or more is always an exercise that requires reflection. In one young vineyard, Yann has decided to leave a few empty rows to plant trees and introduce some agroforestry in the vines. It will take a long time to see the results, but of course there will be plenty of good Gamay while we wait.