The Morgon “Gang of Four” refers to the quartet of growers who produce non-sulfured, non-filtered, minimally handled wines in Morgon. There is a fifth grower, he just doesn’t happen to be imported by Kermit Lynch like the others. Georges Descombes has been working the vines here since his teens with his father, also a vigneron, and other local growers which gave him the opportunity to taste everyone else's wines. The first time he tasted one of Marcel Lapierre’s Morgons he made the decision on the spot to make Morgon with as much purity and elegance. This was long before there was any natural wine movement or hype; these were just beautiful wines, very different from the commercial examples which dominated the market at the time.
Georges farms organically a total of 15-16 hectares of vines, mainly in Morgon and Brouilly with smaller plots in Regnié, Chiroubles and Beaujolais-Villages. Yields are very low here; 30-40 hectolitres per hectare max which is at the lower of end of Grand Cru red Burgundy restrictions to give you some sense of scale. Yields twice as large as these aren't uncommon in Beaujolais. A lot of this has to do with lots of older vines which yield much less. The fruit is handpicked and immediately brought into a large refrigerator to cool down. The vinification takes place in cement vats at very low temperature with no sulfur to help preserve the lush, fresh fruit character Georges looks for in great Beaujolais. Whole cluster fermentation takes place slowly using natural yeasts. The wines are aged in small, neutral barrels for close to a year before bottling.
The Brouilly is from old vines on very steep slopes and is the softer of the two wines. Classic, rustic Brouilly with pretty notes of tart cherry, strawberries and violet. Lush, rich texture with red currant and spice. If I were serving these two wines together, this would be opened first with charcuterie and young cow’s milk cheeses.
The Morgon is a little more serious to my palate, a bit quieter. Cool notes of wet stone and damson plum with fresh red and blue fruits and spice on the palate. Unmistakably high quality Gamay but leaning towards the Côte de Beaune. I’d open this with the roast Poulet de Bresse.