Domain Dominique Piron: the fantastic terroirs of Beaujolais

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After the Marsannay Pinot noirs from Sylvain Pataille, for this week’s allocation of the week we head south, to discover Dominique Piron’s magnificent, terroir-driven Gamays.

Even while the harvests were in full swing, Dominique Piron was kind enough to give us some of his precious time to answer some of our questions. The winemaker, who is celebrating his 50th vinification this year, didn’t hide his satisfaction regarding this year’s happy vintage. After a difficult decade fraught with hail, frost and small harvests, 2018 will be known for its absence of disease, a dry summer, a good harvest both in terms of quality and quantity. “It will be a superb vintage. For the moment, everything we’ve tasted is good,” he enthused.

piron1Dominique Piron tasting in his cellar

Meticulous viticulture and vinification

The 14th generation of winemakers working in Morgon for the past 400 years, Dominique Piron cultivates around a hundred hectares of vines in the Morgon, Chénas and Beaujolais Villages appellations. Known for having been the first winemaker in the region to buy grapes and the vinify them, Piron tells me about his years of experience as well as his progress in terms of technique. Over time, he and his peers have perfected the vinifications, thereby producing wines of better quality. However today, where true progress needs to be made is on the soil and the plant. “Unfortunately, people concentrate too much on numbers and marketing, yet the best marketing is that of having a good product.”

It goes without saying that, in order to make a good wine, you must have good grapes. Dominique Piron is worried about his customers’ consumption and concentrates on producing “clear, clean and precise cuvées”. Thus, while his domain is not certified organic or biodynamic, he cultivates his vines as cleanly as possible, because, “being in harmony with nature means cherishing it and working with motivation.” He has passed on this philosophy to his entire team and has since obtained the HVE label (Haute Valeur Environnementale – high environmental value).

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Harvests in Dominique Piron’s vineyards

In the winery, Dominique Piron favors traditional methods. This year, the harvests were entirely manual. Generally, vinification lasts between 6 and 20 days, depending on the appellation. Beaujolais wines, with their fresh fruit aromas will last around a week, whereas a Morgon or another cru, more concentrated cru will last between 15 and 20 days. Fermentation is natural and the winemaker only influences the temperature and duration.

Cave et Morgon Piron

 

Terroir-driven wines made for sharing

“I don’t like drinking my wines too early… Not before 7 in the morning! (he chuckles) On a serious note, I enjoy opening a bottle when I’ve had a tiring day and more importantly, when it’s going to be shared. Wine is synonymous with sharing.” His wines are elegant and have a strong character.

Gamay sol Piron

 

“Gamay reflects the subsoil completely, it expresses each of its characteristics.” Dominique Piron informed us that after in-depth geological studies, researchers were able to prove that the Beaujolais possesses a considerably rich soil, comparable to the Alsace. This immense variety allows producers to produce wines which widely vary, from one site to another. Granite is in fact full of minerals (quartz, magnesium, etc.) which are, for Gamay, “like salt on meat: flavor enhancers.”

Whilst the range of reds is very varied, the winemaker also produces a lovely white Beaujolais (Chardonnay).

Here at iDealwine, we can’t recommend this winemaker highly enough, and the work he does for his region, proved by his status and president of l’InterBeaujolais (the Beaujolais appellation). We wish him a happy 50th vinification and can’t wait to try this latest vintage!

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DOMAIN DOMINIQUE PIRON’S WINES

Beaujolais Dominique Piron 2016 (white)

This 100% Chardonnay from Dominique Piron is hand harvested fairly late and then fermented in stainless steel vats before being aged in oak to give it length and fullness. This wine gives off aromas of white flowers and exotic fruits on the nose. On the palate this wine is rich and lively and before giving way to a well structured and balanced wine.

Chénas Quartz Dominique Piron 2015

This Chénas is subtle yet maintains good substance. It is a wine to be shared and would be perfect with some Lyonnaise charcuterie.

Morgon Grand Cras Dominique Piron 2017

This Grand Cras Morgon from Domaine Piron packs volume and concentration with delicious black and red fruit notes. Hints of spice and kirsch give this wine a good finish. It is the terroir and the age of these vines that give this wine such depth. The roots of these 50 year old vines bury deep into soil made up of old granite and iron oxide. The time spent in vats and oak give this wine a roundness and longevity that makes it the perfect match for game.

 Morgon Côte du Py Dominique Piron 2016

This beautiful and powerful wine has a silky texture and graphite minerality that is typical of a Côte du Py. This wine needs 5 years ageing in order to soften.

 

What the reviews say about Domain Dominique Piron:

La Revue du Vin de France Guide Vert

1*

Since his partnership with Julein Revillon, who brought 7 hectares (out of 95 in total), the exuberant Domonique Piron has centre his activity on commercializing his wines and local affairs by becoming the new president of the Beaujolais interprofession. The duo recruited a new head of viticulture, Thibaud Lemaître. We hope that this latest addition will bring perfectly ripe fruits and that technique won’t take precedence over terroir. […] The chénas Quartz perfectly respects the terroir and is worth of being shared. The Morgon La Chanaise is juicy, with digestible tannins and clean on the finish. Le Côte du Py is delicious, with the rich aroma of potpourri. We highly recommend this wide, consistent selection of wines.

Bettane+Desseauve wine guide 2018

3* out of 5

A figurehead of Beaujolais in general and Morgon in particular, Dominique Piron’s cuvées are a real treat, no matter the cru. Although recently elected president of the appellation, he hasn’t neglected his vines, with a 2015 vintage which lived entirely up to expectations, with its austere style after bottling. The Crus Fleurie, Chiroubles and Moulin-à-vent are absolutely delicious!”

 

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Other things to read on the iDealwine blog:

Foire aux vins: more than 200 incredible finds, from €7

How to choose a good wine (even when you know nothing about wine)

Domaine Sylvain Pataille: Marsannay restored to its former splendor

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