Who: Alain Coudert
What: Fleurie and Brouilly
When: Since 1900
Clos de la Roilette is located to the east of the village of Fleurie down the hill toward Moulin-a-Vent and holds a vast view of the vineyard south, east and north. It’s not actually a Clos but the savvy owner who named the estate registered the name and so the registration goes. On the other hand, it might be a Clos for the soil is distinct from the rest of Fleurie, having a greater clay component unlike the pure granite of the rest of the Appellation. Indeed the story goes the estate was once within the then better known Moulin-a-Vent Appellation but was re-classified into Fleurie to the then owner’s displeasure – and he responded by placing a horse prominently on his label rather than the name Fleurie. Fortunately times have changed… What hasn’t changed is the profile of the wine, denser with a darker fruit than many other wines of the Appellation.
Aforesaid owner eventually lost interest, the estate lost its shine, and Fernand Coudert a local farmer picked up a rather run-down estate in 1967, with a real farmer’s eye to the potential of the land. His son Alain took over in the early 1980’s.
There are 9 hectares on its east-facing slope planted to Gamay on granite soils with a high clay and manganese content. The work is basically organic, by hand, with a very gentle touch so as not to disturb life in the soils below the very surface.
The winemaking is classic. Semi-carbonic maceration, of whole bunches of courese, natural yeasts, in concrete tank, followed by 6 months or more in large old foudres for the main wine.
In addition to the main wine, there’s a Cuvée Tardive which refers to when to drink the wine, not when the grapes are picked. There’s a Cuvée Griffe de Marquis which is from the oldest vines and aged in small barrels, the name a nod and wink to the ironic nickname given to Alain’s mother (the Marquise) when they took over the estate and the place wasn’t in fact a Clos with a Château. There’s a Cuvée Christia which is from a parcel in the Champagne lieu-dit next to Alain’s friend Jean-Louis Dutraive of Domaine de la Grand Cour, where the soils are more pure granite and the wine lighter, more floral. And there’s a Brouilly.
Clos de la Roilette wines sit on lists next to more famous “natural” wines from the Crus of Beaujolais which themselves are rescuing the somewhat maligned name of the region. They represent outstanding value, once open they evolve beautifully over several days and will age well in bottle for many years.