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Domaine Joseph Burrier, Saint-Amour Côte de Besset 2017

Red Wine from France - Beaujolais
From a Beaujolais vineyard planted on volcanic soils this is a beautifully fragrant, delicate wine with pure notes of dark fruit and a hint of spice on the palate. Perfect with charcuterie.
is no longer available
Code: BJ8231

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Gamay
  • 13% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2023
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Beaujolais

At its best, there is little that can match Beaujolais' fragrant, sappy, fruity flavours. Beaujolais tends to be a delight to drink upon release; indeed, extolling the wines' youthful virtues has been hugely successful.

At one time more than half the crop of this region was hurriedly fermented and sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, released on the third Thursday of November and raced to market in as many inventive ways as possible. Its cheap price and fun image made it popular for a while but, inevitably, quality suffered and Nouveau fell out of fashion in the face of new world competition.

Away from Beaujolais Nouveau, another kind of Beaujolais continued to be made, often using very traditional methods of production and reflecting a complexity of terroir that still comes as something of a surprise.

Beaujolais lies between the towns of Mâcon and Lyon with most of the vineyard confusingly coming into the Département du Rhône. The vast majority of the region's 18,500 hectares ...

At its best, there is little that can match Beaujolais' fragrant, sappy, fruity flavours. Beaujolais tends to be a delight to drink upon release; indeed, extolling the wines' youthful virtues has been hugely successful.

At one time more than half the crop of this region was hurriedly fermented and sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, released on the third Thursday of November and raced to market in as many inventive ways as possible. Its cheap price and fun image made it popular for a while but, inevitably, quality suffered and Nouveau fell out of fashion in the face of new world competition.

Away from Beaujolais Nouveau, another kind of Beaujolais continued to be made, often using very traditional methods of production and reflecting a complexity of terroir that still comes as something of a surprise.

Beaujolais lies between the towns of Mâcon and Lyon with most of the vineyard confusingly coming into the Département du Rhône. The vast majority of the region's 18,500 hectares is planted with a single red grape: gamay, or to be more precise, gamay noir à jus blanc. Often densely planted to help control the vines vigour, and therefore yields, trained low and pruned hard, they are need at least a short spell of real heat to ripen properly. In terms of soil, gamay does not do well on sedimentary rock types. Much of Beaujolais is granite with outcrops of schist in part of Morgon or Andesites in the Cote de Brouilly.

A little over 200 hectares is planted with chardonnay, which is growing in popularity because it is easier to sell and can be turned into sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne. White Beaujolais is sold either as Beaujolais blanc or Beaujolais-Villages blanc, and the best comes areas with chalk in the soil.

Below is a list of the appellations, but it is worth mentioning that the most important factor in the wines' quality is the grower.

Beaujolais: Mostly from the south where the soils are often of a limestone called pierres dorées, which makes excellent building material. But there are granites as well and a great many styles of wine possible though a major part of the productions continues to be made as Nouveau.

Beaujolais-Villages: These wines come from the north and are set among the ten crus and planted on the same granitic soils. 38 parishes are allowed to produce Beaujolais-Villages. They offer a midway point between generic Beaujolais and the greater complexity of the crus.

The ten crus, from north to south, are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Each have their own unique variation on the local geology and topography, climatic conditions and character; from the light, fragrant Chiroubles to the richer, more concentrated Moulin-à-Vent with its ability to age and comparison in great years with top Burgundies.

Within these crus are specific vineyards, or climats, with deserved reputations for high-quality, such as Poncié in Fleurie or Côte du Py in Morgon. For a more thorough examination of these crus and their characteristic traits please see our How to Buy Beaujolais guide in the Wine World & News section of our website.

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Maison Joseph Burrier

The Burrier family, who have lived in Burgundy for 500 years, own both Château de Beauregard in Pouilly-Fuissé and the négociant Maison Joseph Burrier, and have done so for six generations. The current generation in charge is Frédéric Burrier, who returned to the family business in 1999 after many years at Jadot. The charismatic, passionate and industrious Frédéric has done much to raise the quality bar in this tiny enclave of the southern Mâconnais. The family holds 22 hectares of Pouilly-Fuissé, 7 hectares in Saint-Véran and 12 hectares in Beaujolais.

Half of the Beaujolais vines are in Fleurie, but there are also small plots in Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Saint-Amour and Chiroubles. The vines range from 35 to 45 years old on average, and are located at some of the most prestigious plots in their respective appellations. In Fleurie, for instance, the vines are mostly at the highly respected Poncié site which borders Moulin-à-Vent, whereas in Moulin-à-Vent itself the family owns a superb vineyard called Les Petits Bois.

All of the family’s Beaujolais is made at a winery in Fleurie. The various crus are all vinified in a traditional style, and most spend some time in oak – for Saint-Amour and Morgon this is seven to ten months, Moulin-à-Vent spends around nine months in oak, and in the case of the Fleurie, just half of the blend is aged in oak, usually for around six to eight months.

The Burriers’ 22 hectares of Pouilly-Fuissé vines are split between the three villages of Fuissé, ...
The Burrier family, who have lived in Burgundy for 500 years, own both Château de Beauregard in Pouilly-Fuissé and the négociant Maison Joseph Burrier, and have done so for six generations. The current generation in charge is Frédéric Burrier, who returned to the family business in 1999 after many years at Jadot. The charismatic, passionate and industrious Frédéric has done much to raise the quality bar in this tiny enclave of the southern Mâconnais. The family holds 22 hectares of Pouilly-Fuissé, 7 hectares in Saint-Véran and 12 hectares in Beaujolais.

Half of the Beaujolais vines are in Fleurie, but there are also small plots in Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Saint-Amour and Chiroubles. The vines range from 35 to 45 years old on average, and are located at some of the most prestigious plots in their respective appellations. In Fleurie, for instance, the vines are mostly at the highly respected Poncié site which borders Moulin-à-Vent, whereas in Moulin-à-Vent itself the family owns a superb vineyard called Les Petits Bois.

All of the family’s Beaujolais is made at a winery in Fleurie. The various crus are all vinified in a traditional style, and most spend some time in oak – for Saint-Amour and Morgon this is seven to ten months, Moulin-à-Vent spends around nine months in oak, and in the case of the Fleurie, just half of the blend is aged in oak, usually for around six to eight months.

The Burriers’ 22 hectares of Pouilly-Fuissé vines are split between the three villages of Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly and Vergisson, with Château de Beauregard itself set on a rolling plateau in Pouilly-Fuissé, with one of the best views of the rocks of Vergisson and Solutré.

As sometime president of the local comité interprofessionel, Frédéric works tirelessly to achieve the kind of respect for Pouilly-Fuissé that is enjoyed by the Côte d’Or, and certainly the fine, complex chardonnays produced in the high, cool village of Vergisson have a lovely tension between freshness ad richness, not unlike the balance of a Meursault or a Puligny-Montrachet. The other point of interest here is the bewildering (though not to Frédéric) number of different barrels, with which he likes to experiment. What interests him, he points out, is ‘the élévage, not the wood’, which never dominates his wines.

He makes several estate Pouillys from different plots, including the exotic Vignes Blanches, the generous and charming Insarts both from the warm Fuissé amphitheatre, aristocratic Maréchaude and restrained Charmes both from the cool climate of Vergisson, which could pass for Puligny, elegant Vers Cras from the limestone plateau that surrounds the château, mineral, waxy Chataigners, and rich, Meursault-like Vers Pouilly which lies on the border with Pouilly.

Each wine is fermented in a combination of tank and barrels of different ages, from various coopers, using different woods. Grand Beauregard is an assemblage of the best barrels, parcels and crus, blended when Frédéric has tasted and digested every one of them and given 24 months in barrel, though like all Burrier wines, it has the knack of absorbing wood. Only 12 barrels of this nectar are produced in each vintage.

The family’s 43-hectare portfolio includes 7 hectares in Saint-Véran. Towards the bottom of the slope at Chasselas they have the cool Vernay vineyard, which produces a fresh, brisk wine which is bottled without oak, as well as (in increasing order of richness) La Roche and then En Faux which are both usually fermented 50% in tank and 50% in barrel. These are close to the quality of much basic Pouilly-Fuissé but can be had for around two-thirds of the price.

Frédéric also produces three Mâcons and is developing a newish plot of pinot noir, planted in 2002 from which he produces around a thousand bottles a year, snapped up by local restaurants. In 2015 Frédéric bought an interest in Domaine de la Rochette in the nearby commune of Bussières having noted it as a property capable of making excellent Mâcon.

From his négociant arm, Maison Joseph Burrier, we buy The Society’s Exhibition Pouilly-Fuissé, a Mâcon-Fuissé and a lovely Viré-Clesé from vines planted in 1947 at Quintaine, all made from bought in grapes.

For a man with so much going on, he seems remarkably relaxed. ‘Je suis passionné, non stressé’ he says. And it shows in his wines.
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Beaujolais Vintage 2017

Despite a triple whammy of frost in spring, hail and drought-like conditions in summer and rain at harvest, 2017 turned out to be a very good vintage! In fact, the rain and drought worked hand-in-hand to bring concentration when the weather was hot and refreshment when the rains came, making for very good balance. This was true at all quality levels, with cru wines showing the characteristics of intensity and concentration with poise particularly well.

2017 vintage reviews

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