Domaine de Foretal

Beaujolais Villages
Moulin à Vent
Jean-Yves Perraud

Domaine de Foretal is situated in the small village of Vauxrenard, in the northern Beaujolais. Perched at 380 meters, the family home and vineyards face south-east and provide a beautiful panorama of Fleurie and Chenas. The Perrauds have grown grapes in Vauxrenard for five generations and today it is Jean-Yves Perraud who is responsable for the property. Estate bottling began in 1995 and since taking over in the year 2000, Jean-Yves has introduced a number of sustainable farming practices such as planting grass between the rows to prevent erosion and finding alternatives to pesticides. In 2019 the domain was certified “Terra Vitis”.

Read Jean-Yves’ comments in the Beaujolais Vintage Reports

Beaujolais Villages

At altitudes between 300 and 400 meters, the Beaujolais-Villages is produced from 40-year-old vines grown on pink granite/sandy soils known locally as “arene”. These thin hillside soils give the wine its floral expression, minerality and fresh finish. The grapes are all harvested by hand and fermented in the traditional Beaujolais manner (whole cluster).

Moulin à Vent

Domaine de Foretal has one and a half hectares of vines in Moulin à Vent divided between a few parcels, most notably “Greneriers” and “Thorin”. The majority of the vines range in age between 50 and 80 years old. The vineyards are planted at a density of 11,000 plants per hectare in the “gobelet” manner. After a manual harvest, Jean-Yves carries out his whole cluster fermentations in stainless steel, keeping the parcels separate until an assemblage is made before bottling.

Region: Beaujolais

Our exploration of French vineyards has often been guided by the study of soils and it was while investigating the wines of Côtes du Forez and Côte Roannaise in the Auvergne that I realized the vineyards of the Cru Beaujolais covered an area that is an extension of the same Massif Central. Our first visit to this geological outgrowth focused on the northern most crus of Julienas and Saint Amour. It was apparent from the start, by simply taking in the idyllic landscape and observing the small gnarly trunks, densely planted and “back-breakingly” low to the ground, that this region could produce some special wines...

Beaujolais takes its name from the region’s early capital and strategically placed town of Beaujeu. The first official record of vineyards in Beaujolais dates from 957 when the Seigneur of Beaujeu purchased vineyards in Morgon. It is more than likely, however, that with the important Roman metropolis of Lyons so close by, the Romans had planted vineyards in Beaujolais long before. Until recently, the red wines of Beaujolais were divided into four classifications: Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, Cru Beaujolais, and Beaujolais Nouveau, with Gamay being the only authorized grape. In 2011 a new AOC was created called Coteaux Bourguignons which includes vineyards in both Burgundy and Beaujolais and among other things, authorizes Pinot Noir to be grown in Beaujolais. There is also a small production of white wine which is classified as Beaujolais/Beaujolais Villages and made with Chardonnay or as Coteaux Bourguignons which permits a small percentage of other varieties to be blended with Chardonnay.

Beaujolais wines offer a unique combination of characteristics. Generally, the wines are very satisfying, enticingly aromatic and fruity with soft tannins and enough acidity to leave the palate refreshed. In contrast to their northern neighbor, Burgundy, Beaujolais wines are earthy rather than ephemeral. Like the Pinot Noir in Burgundy, the Gamay variety is intriguingly transparent as it expresses itself across the many Beaujolais terroirs. The key variables are much the same as those in Burgundy: soil composition, elevation, slope of the vineyard, and exposition. The style of winemaking reflects the vinification options of carbonic maceration, semi-carbonic and “classic”. Equally important is the quality of extraction as influenced by the length of maceration and the temperature of fermentation. And then there is the choice between selected and indigenous yeast and the quantity of SO2 added. The native of Beaujolais, Jules Chauvet, is credited with igniting the movement known now as “natural” wine. The ideas were practiced by a small group of his colleagues and have significantly influenced the younger generation of Beaujolais winemakers.

When we began importing Beaujolais in 2001, the marketplace was dominated by Georges DuBoeuf and other negociants and wines from independent producers were difficult to find. The last two decades has spawned a new generation of wine producers who sense the remarkable potential of their terroirs and are willing to do the hard work of farming the land, producing their wine and finding a clientele. In the U.S., the wines of Beaujolais have been too frequently associated with Beaujolais Nouveau. In contrast, our portfolio celebrates the variety of expression in Beaujolais and dispels the perception that all Beaujolais sing the same song. Finally, the wines of Beaujolais are remarkably versatile in terms of their ability to be paired with food; something long understood in Lyons where Beaujolais perfectly pairs with coq au vin, poached eggs and lardon, pâte and cornichon, grilled or cured sausages, steak and potatoes. Beaujolais and “frites” – now that’s some comfort.