Georges Descombes | Beaujolais’ Gamay guru

There are some wine makers that deserve their moment in the spotlight; Georges Descombes is one of them. An advocate for organic viticulture, inspired by Marcel Lapierre, he crafts cuvées that stand out for being irresistibly full of flavour. Flavour that we’ve been great fans of at iDealwine for several years now…

A classic wine maker’s story, Georges Descombes comes from a family of vintners from whom he inherited a deep love for the vine. He was, however, the only one of the clan with a desire to take over the Villiers-Morgon based domain. After undertaking his viticultural studies, Georges collected his first harvest in 1987, on Brouilly plots he inherited from his grandmother. He was unstoppable. Working for a bottling firm, he got the chance to taste a variety of the region’s viticultural produce, and he even dedicated two days a week to work with other vintners in the area. It wasn’t until 1993 that Georges decided to focus entirely on his own estate, brimming with knowledge about the industry and the excellent work of neighbouring vintners. The domain covers 17 hectares in all, seven of which are in the Morgon appellation, and the rest classed within Brouilly, Régnié, Chiroubles, Beaujolais-Villages and Beaujolais.

Georges Descombes has never been well-versed in the practice of chemical use, so his vines are mostly tended to with organic methods. The only exception to this is found on the particularly steep slopes; since this terrain is very difficult to work with, small amounts of herbicide are used.

A disciple of Jules Chauvet, forerunner in what has come to be known as the ‘natural movement’, Georges makes his winery a place where nature can be left to its own devices, as far as possible. Native yeasts trigger the fermentation of the grapes, which are then vinified without the use of added sulphur, with full carbonic maceration. Georges also chooses to cool down the harvest in order for vinification to be gentler and longer; a method we see at Domaine Jean Foillard.

To preserve the fresh and delicate fruit, as well as the mineral character of the Beaujolais terroir, vinification is mainly carried out in inert containers including vats made of concrete and stainless steel. For the Vieilles Vignes cuvées, the wine is aged for eight or nine years in mature oak casks; the other cuvées mature in concrete vats. The Vieilles Vignes cuvées are sold a year later than is customary for Morgon producers, because ‘natural wines are lively, and I prefer to sell them once they’ve stabilised’.

If there’s one thing that’s stable for us, it’s our opinion that these frank, pure, and crisp wines deserve a place in your cellar. Ambassadors for their appellations, they are cuvées that say much about both place and producer.

Find our selection of Georges Descombes wines here