Whatever your favorite producer’s house style, imagine it writ large in 2015: this was our experience in tasting today’s 2015 Régnié (ren-YAY) from Domaine des Braves, perhaps the best-known producer of this lesser-known cru. Plump, plush, darkly fruited, and downright exuberant, this is a wine to consider purchasing by the case; I can’t think of a more versatile and straightforwardly delicious red wine to have on hand in quantity.
As legions of Beaujolais makers have noted, 2015 was a hot, dry vintage known for exceptionally concentrated wines. Some of them, as we’ve experienced, are a little over-the-top, but one of the saving graces of 2015 (as opposed to ‘heatwave’ years like ’03) was that it cooled down during harvest time. This allowed for the crucial preservation of acidity in wines that might otherwise have turned jammy and flabby. Acidity is key in this Régnié from Braves: While it is bigger and bolder than any previous version we’ve tried, it stops well short of overblown. You get all the purple-hued Gamay fruit you could ask for, but also enough acid (and a subtle kiss of tannin) to keep the fruit in check. It’s kind of amazing, actually, how this wine manages to be so ‘big’ and ‘bright’ at the same time.
Régnié, like its southern neighbor, Brouilly, is traditionally thought of as one of the more forwardly fruity crus, a touch gentler than its northern neighbor, Morgon, in terms of minerality. Domaine des Braves acquired most of its 42 acres of vines in this village in the 1970s; most of their vineyards sit on a high plateau of about 300 meters elevation, with full-south expositions and soils that mix sand with pink granite and limestone. Now run by the fourth generation of the Cinquin family, the wines are sustainably farmed, minimal-intervention expressions of place—this wine was fermented using indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, where it remained for aging, and it was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The 2015 announces itself with a full-throated roar of concentrated Gamay fruit. In the glass it is a very dark ruby-red leaning toward purple, and its aromatics are similarly dark-toned: black plum, black raspberry, currant, cherry compote, wet violets, and a hint of pepper, then a refreshing blast of pomegranate. On the palate it is round, juicy, generous, and yet neither sappy nor ‘hot’ with excess alcohol. It’s a testament to Gamay’s balanced acidity that a wine so juicy and deep is in no way ponderous. Rather than devolve into some sweet confection, it remains poised and focused—ready to take on burgers, steaks on the grill, and any number of other foods you might throw at it. It is quite enjoyable to drink now, but there’s enough structure here for short-term aging; I’d be curious to see what it becomes with about five more years under its belt, and at this price, I can afford to forget a few in my cellar. If enjoying now, give it maybe 30 minutes in a decanter before serving in large Burgundy stems. A cooler temperature, say 60 degrees, will modulate some of the fruit concentration and heighten the acid/mineral component. It’s lush and showy enough to make a yummy ‘cocktail’ wine, but then again, I usually drink cocktails during the cocktail hour. Check out this recipe
in which salmon is ‘lacquered’ with red wine. I like the sound of that, especially after having my palate lacquered by this Régnié.