2019 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie
Serious wine drinkers usually don’t care too much about wine labels. But I get more questions from more serious wine drinkers about the label on bottles of Clos de la Roilette Fleurie than about any other wine. Why a horse? Why a racehorse? What do racehorses have to do with Beaujolais? And why would you want them associated with great Fleurie? There are, of course, answers to all of these questions. And they all begin with a story:
The labels of Clos de la Roilette now say Fleurie, but its taste says Moulin-à-Vent. The wine shows the manganese-clay terroir characteristic of its prestigious neighbor, which was its original appellation.
In the 1920s, the borders of the Beaujolais crus were changed to create the appellation of Fleurie. Clos de la Roilette, which was classified as a Moulin-à-Vent, became part of the new appellation. The owner of the estate — relegated to the wrong side of the border — was incensed. He created a new label for Clos de la Roilette, a label that refused to identify the wine as part of any cru appellation. And front and center of the label, in an act of Gallic fancy, he displayed an image of his favorite racehorse.
In 1967, Clos de la Roilette was sold to the Coudert family. In the 1980s, Alain Coudert received the reins of the vineyard from his father. But while the owners and the vignerons of the estate have changed, the label — and its racehorse — has remained.
The terroir of the estate hasn’t changed, either. A taste of Clos de la Roilette tells you its isn’t like any other Fleurie. From vintage to vintage, this is an elegant and powerful wine, with dark, brambly fruit. It’s gently spicy, with a velvety texture, and a sturdy but fine-boned structure. And this 2019 vintage is even better than most. The Wine Advocate says 94 points, and that it’s “showing beautifully, wafting from the glass with aromas of rose petals, red cherries, raspberries, spices and orange rind.”
I say it’s a classic Beaujolais by any appellation. As captivating today as it will be years from now. Just like the horse on the label.
“Bottled only a week before I tasted it, Alain Coudert’s 2019 Fleurie from the Clos de la Roilette is showing beautifully, wafting from the glass with aromas of rose petals, red cherries, raspberries, spices and orange rind. Medium to full-bodied, deep and velvety, it’s elegant and fine-boned, with lively acids, refined structuring tannins and a long, perfumed finish. Readers who gravitate toward classical styles of Beaujolais will prefer the 2019 to the richer, more gourmand 2018, but both are lovely vintages for this reference-point address.
“As I’ve written before, the Coudert family acquired Fleurie’s famous Clos de la Roilette—which neighbors Moulin-à-Vent formerly traded under that name—in 1967, and Alain has been at the helm since 1991. The soils here are rich in clay and manganese, and that, combined with a classical approach to maceration, results in muscular, structured wines that age very well. Vinified largely with whole clusters and the traditional submerged cap, these are typically deeply colored wines with plenty of fruit and tannin. The 2019 vintage has turned out especially well, and it’s the most overtly Fleurie-styled vintage—in the sense that this appellation is identified with perfume and finesse—that Coudert has produced in a decade. If the gourmand generosity and wealth of fruit of 2018 will win the domaine new friends, then the fragrant and beautifully balanced 2019 will exercise special appeal over Beaujolais purists.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate