It’s never too late for a renaissance. Nearing the age of 60, Jean-Louis Dutraive has done just that. After prying him for what has happened over the last five years, there seems to be no other answer outside of pure inspiration and enlightenment. You get the feeling it was always there but has just emerged over the last years. This extremely humble and hard-working vigneron has unintentionally become (for me) an iconoclastic vigneron within Beaujolais. He has found his own unique style of winemaking and has pushed his wines to a place that knows no equal. He has abandoned conventional farming in favor of organic many years ago and has become at one with his vines and his wines. He has come to realize and practice that with near perfect work in the vineyard of a great terroir, one must observe more and react less.
Lay of the Land
Fleurie is perhaps one of Beaujolais’ most elegant appellations. It, like the other crus of Beaujolais, is scrunched up in the north half of Beaujolais and are dominated by more the more complex soils: schist and granite. At Jean-Louis’ Fleurie vines, the soil is granite; the exception being the Brouilly, which is on limestone. The vineyards in Fleurie are spread out with quite a different elevation between 250-500 meters. The vines of Dutraive are just a short walk from the town center, which sits around 300 meters.
The climate of Beaujolais is semi-continental and is warmer than the rest of Burgundy. In fact, it is one of the warmest places in France during the summer months. Thankfully, they are the eastern foothills of the Massif Central which helps the vineyards cool down at night following hot days.