Beaujolais is a crossroads between northern and southern France, both in character and in culture. With rolling hills and rustic charm, not to mention the fun-loving, down-to-earth attitude of its vignerons, the region is an oasis of pastoral beauty, sincerity, and bon-vivants. Dominique Piron’s family has been growing grapes here since the 16th century, and Dominique took over the estate in 1971. Working side by side with his American wife, enologist Kristine Mary, the Pirons farm 45 hectares of vineyards scattered among several different crus in Beaujolais, namely Morgon, Chénas, Brouilly, Régnié and Moulin-à-Vent. They own some parcels, rent others, and also buy 20-hectares worth of carefully selected grapes from their neighbors. Regardless of where the grapes are sourced, the Pirons are responsible for every aspect of quality-control from the vineyard management to the marketing of the finished wine. They take such great care of each of their crus that even the simple Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages wines are carefully selected from single-vineyard parcels. Each of their terroirs is unique, yet they are all granite-based soils—the ideal grounding for the Gamay grape. The Pirons farm sustainably, although they have also been experimenting with organic methods to achieve a rich biodiversity in the vineyards. Yields average between 45 and 50 hl/ha.
While the Pirons are extremely traditional in their vinifications, they also de-stem 25 to 100% of the harvest before crush—a much less common practice, but one which they believe lends finesse to the finished wines. Their Morgon, Chénas, and Moulin-à-Vent are entirely de-stemmed. Inspired by the Burgundian model, they look for long, whole-grape cuvaisons, lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 days, depending on the cuvee, with regular punch-downs for controlled color and tannin extraction. The Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages undergo comparatively shorter cuvaisons, with the goal of achieving a light, buoyant texture in the final wine. All of the wines see some aging in neutral foudres and old barrels, but the Pirons firmly believe in leaving the character of the grape and its terroir unmasked. No one could ever accuse the Pirons’ wines of lacking structure or concentration.