Chiroubles "Vieilles Vignes"
Located in Vermont, a tiny hamlet in Villié-Morgon, Georges Descombes is the unofficial fifth member of the iconic “Gang of Four”: Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Guy Breton. In his teens, Georges worked with his vigneron father in the vines as well as a local bottling company. Hopping around from cellar to cellar gave him a chance to try a large amount of different estates, and the first time he tasted a Lapierre wine, young Georges was blown away by its purity and elegance. Then and there, he decided he would try to make wines like Marcel’s.
Georges took over the estate in 1988 and immediately started shifting viticultural and oenological practices forward. Though his father had always worked traditionally in the vineyards and cellar, Georges decided to push things further by practicing organic viticulture (certified by Ecocert for many years, but now practicing without certification) and eliminating all entrants or manipulation during vinification. A minuscule dose of sulfur, less than a hundredth of what an organically certified vigneron is legally allowed to use, is added at bottling to help preserve the wines.
In total, Georges owns about 15.5 hectares of land spread over five AOC’s: 7.5 hectares in Morgon, 3.5 in Brouilly, 2 hectares in Regnié, 0.5 hectare in Chiroubles, and 2 hectares of Beaujolais-Villages. Grapes are hand-harvested, then stored in a temperature controlled container before being placed in 60hl cement tanks. A traditional, semi-carbonic maceration occurs, and the wine ferments from its ambient yeasts. For each Cru, Georges produces old vine cuvées which are vinified sepatately, then aged in barrel six months before bottling.
Georges is a firm believer that his wines benefit from time in bottle, and always releases them up to a year later than most of his colleagues, particularly the old vine releases.
Grapes are chilled when they arrive to the cellar and see long semi-carbonic macerations (three weeks to a month) in various vats. The wine is then aged in 228l Burgundian barriques for at least 12 months. They often age in bottle many years before being sold. 15 to 20mg per liter of sulfur added at bottling.