“Who the hell is Domaine Gao-Tainturier?”
It was back in early November at the end of a comprehensive tasting session with an importer friend in the subterranean caveau of natural Beaujolais winemaker Gilles Paris. As is my wont, I had begun peering among the old bottles and memorabilia stacked away in the corners of the room. Some handsome labels caught my eye on a few bottles of Fleurie I didn’t recognize.
“Ah, let’s open that, it’ll be funny,” Paris replied, before revealing that he himself had made the wine. It was the his first time vinifying what would later become his own cuvée of Fleurie “Grandpré,” a lieu-dit lately put on the map, as it were, by the wines of young natural Fleurie winemakers Yann Bertrand and Romain Zordan. (Marie Elodie Zighera Confuron of Clos de Mez also farms a small parcel of “Grandpré,” if I remember correctly.) “Grandpré” borders the “Douby” lieu-dit on the northern edge of Morgon.
Paris explained that the particular parcel of “Grandpré” is owned a Parisian couple, Mme. Gao and M. Tainturier. In 2012 they asked Paris to vinify the wine as a private label for them. “I said okay, but if I’m making the wine we have to make it how I like, as a natural wine.”
At the time, Paris, in the midst of a divorce, didn’t have his own cellar. He was vinifying in borrowed space at the cuvage of Jean-Claude Chanudet a.k.a. Le Chat in the Morgon lowland of “Les Marcellins.” 2012 was a notorious vintage; Mathieu Lapierre likes to call it the year of OGM: oidium, grêle (hail), and mildew. Generally speaking, many cru Beaujolais wines that year were a bit slack, lacking in tension.
But Paris’ 2012 Domaine Gao-Tainturier Fleurie, rather miraculously, was showing chiseled and precise, six years later – luminescent raspberry, bright acid flair, a sonorous kirsch note on the nose. The wine was, if anything, purer and less extractive than many of the wines Paris produced for himself until the 2016 vintage. (Paris’ 2016’s and 2017’s show the benefits of his spacious new cellar in Fleurie.) It was a highlight of the tasting, along with his brother Jérome’s Régnié “Les Forchets” 2016 and his own 2017 Fleurie.
He reckoned he had a couple dozen bottles left of the wine. For whatever reason, Domaine Gao-Tainturier was a one-off: in subsequent vintages, the couple decided simply to sell the harvest to Gilles to commercialise as he wished. It became his Fleurie “Grandpré,” which in recent years has been blended with other sources of Fleurie due to repeated hail.
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