There’s no need to rewrite the story on this one: For those who purchased this smoking ‘14 Cru Beaujolais last year, you already know the excitement around this wine. So, I recommend that you head straight to the shopping cart because this is the last of our reserve stock and I guarantee it will disappear lightning quick.
As noted previously, I actually cheered after one of my staff gave me a blind tasting of today’s wine—not because I was correct (I wasn’t), but because I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. Upon tasting, it had the structure of 2014—a soulfully classic vintage that remains one of my favorites of the modern era—and the breathtaking qualities that had me listing villages in Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. Put simply, this is the one of the most profound, Burgundy-esque Beaujolais I’ve ever tasted, and at just $20, it’s undoubtedly the greatest in its price range. Does this sound like a lot of big talk for a mere Beaujolais-Villages? Good. “Héritage du Penlois” deserves every bit of the hype—even Penlois’ owner/winemaker (and my newfound friend), Sébastien Besson, calls it his favorite bottling. Here’s why: This hails entirely from their family-owned, 60-90-year-old vines in Lancié, a small, supremely located village that is wedged between the Crus of Morgon, Fleurie, and Moulin-à-Vent. It’s sustainably farmed, purely crafted, and spent nearly four years developing all of its textured and savory Burgundian qualities in their very own cellars. Thankfully, we stumbled upon this tiny domaine during our trip, and because of that, we can exclusively offer case purchases today. I urge you: Do not miss this—it’s a smokin’ $40+ Burgundy hiding behind a $20 Beaujolais label!
One thing I always try to do when I’m traveling is ask local producers which wines they drink when they’re not drinking their own. I can’t think of a better way to unearth exciting new finds, and it’s how I found today’s wine and its maker, Sébastien Besson. The SommSelect crew was in Villé-Morgon, in Beaujolais, eating coq au vin and drinking great bottles at the local wine bar/hotel, Le Bacchus, where an all-star lineup of local producers had congregated. Among them was Alex Foillard, son of the legendary Jean, with whom I asked my time-tested question: Whose wines should we check out? He walked away and returned with the incredibly kind and humble Sébastien Besson; soon after, we all headed to a boisterous party in the nearby village of Régnié. It was an unforgettable night, populated with the next generation of great Cru Beaujolais producers. I returned the following month and spent some time with Sébastien to learn more about his family’s Domaine du Penlois, and that’s where we uncovered a small trove of Beaujolais gems.
The Bessons are no novices when it comes to Beaujolais: It all started when patriarch Benoît Besson arrived in the small hamlet of Lancié during the advent of the Roaring Twenties, where his brother Paul was already tending family-owned vines. It was here in Lancié where Benoît spearheaded the cultivation of Chardonnay, a tradition that survived and still thrives to this day. Today, however, we’re focusing on Beaujolais’ flagship grape: Gamay. After four generations of handing off this grape-growing and winemaking enterprise father to son, the Bessons are now nearing 30 hectares of vines, spread throughout a number of top Crus. Now coming up on the century mark, Domaine du Penlois is a staple of traditional Burgundy—and their wines reflect that to their very core.
“Héritage du Penlois” is sourced from their oldest parcels within the well-situated village of Lancié (which is wedged between three Crus!). The soils from these premium vines range from granite to iron-rich clay and the Bessons rigorously farm with sustainable principles. Harvest is always conducted by hand and in 2014, the old-vine Gamay was transported to their winery in small baskets and fermentation occurred in temp-controlled stainless steel tanks for 15 days. The wine was then racked and underwent additional aging in neutral vessels. After bottling, they were laid to rest in Penlois’ cellars and remained untouched until our visit earlier this year.
The 2014 “Héritage du Penlois” displays an intense ruby core with a soft pink rim and immediately erupts with high-toned aromas and gorgeous savory undertones. After my (incorrect) blind tasting call, we started grabbing all coworkers, friends, and family within reach, and they, too, were stuck on Burgundian Pinot Noir. With its perfumed violets, rose petals, and potpourri, it shows such aromatic depth and finesse. As it takes on oxygen, it reveals intense black raspberries, cherries, freshly picked strawberries, red plum skin, pomegranate seeds, graphite, forest floor, and wild herbs that just keep coming in waves. The palate is structured, supple, and medium-bodied, exploding with just-ripe and ripe wild berry fruit, crushed minerality, and benchmark Burgundian savor. It’s delicious, serious, and mesmerizing all in one, and it will continue showcasing this beautiful marriage until 2025. After a quick decant, pour just like you would a fine village wine from the Côte d'Or—around 60-65 degrees in large Burgundy stems next to a Provençal roasted chicken. Cheers!
Village of Lancié
Granite & Iron-Rich Clay