About the winery
"We aren’t looking to make a particular style; we just make the wines we love."
As you walk through the majestic arch that has given the road its name, you take a step back in time three centuries. The scenery is straight from a film, the only difference being the lorry has replaced the horse. The place exudes a certain sense of perfection both within and without the walls. Louis-Claude, the father, is there, seated beside his children. He acknowledges the tradition of calling the first-born Claude. Claude- Emmanuelle, 35, and his ‘little brother’ Louis- Benoît, 31, work as partners.
She loves her brother’s listening ability and his patience. He calls her affectionately ‘Manu’, appreciating her drive and cutting edge. She admits to always having loved the vine resulting in further studies in wine and spirits, each time studying in another region. At barely 17 she forged her independence visiting other wine regions and entertaining differing view points. She studied Merlot and Cabernet in the Medoc. With the help of her father’s New York importer she worked on Long Island on the 2011 vintage, leaving the USA just before the bombings. On returning she set up with her father.
‘Petit Louis’ was still living at home and chose to pursue studies in Industrial Creation, but with little enthusiasm. In 2004, he returned to the domain as an employee and ‘learned the ropes’, as he did not want to return to his studies. In 2009 he became co-partner. As his sister before him, he learned much on his travels, wherever his love of drumming would take him. ‘I learned more meeting people around the world than I did in my studies’, he declares.
The two together are the eighth generation to work the 10.2 hectares that are exclusively sold in bottles. Four wines laud their only ‘cru’: ‘Voûte Saint-Vincent’ a generic, pleasurable Morgon alongside the famous ‘Côte du Py’ and ‘Javernière’ . The final wine is a blend selected from the old vines called ‘Les Impénitents’. This ‘flask’, attired in black, was created by the children in homage to their father after a newspaper article defined Monsier Desvignes, the father, as an ‘unrepentant traditionalist’. As Jean Cocteau said, ‘What ever you are reproached of, nurture it for it is truly you.’ And with a smile Louis-Benoît rubs it in by saying ‘As we only work with Morgon, it’s quite fun to claim to be the Morgon specialist’.
In wine-making, there are no fixed recipes, but with a good harvest we leave 40 to 100% of our grapes in whole clusters and undergo semi-carbonic maceration. We extract our wines whilst respecting each facet of the Gamay grape’, says Louis-Benoît. ‘We sort and de-stem when the vines have been damaged by hail; we practice ‘delestage’. Since 2007 we no longer use herbicides in the vineyard’. Tilling the soil and unorthodox methods are their signature: ‘We aren’t looking to make a particular style; we just make the wines we love’ they acclaim in unison. Their approach is very traditional but they are far from being hermits. An acquisition project with a colleague from Moulin-à-Vent, called ‘Indigènes’ is on the drawing board: 1.39 hecatres in a fine Chénas climate. ‘This site has enormous potential’ they announce collectively. They would also like to create a group of young wine-makers. In his day their father had done the same, creating the ‘Quality Club’ with twelve Beaujolais producers.
Between 45 and 50,000 bottles are sold annually with a third sold on the export market (EU, England, Canada with an established Anglo Saxon clientele) and the rest in their tasting cellars on the property. With no less than 2,500 private clients, of which 10% are independent winemerchants, they open by appointment (except Sundays) and enjoy welcoming their customers whilst sharing a glass of Morgon. Did I hear someone say attentive?