Over the past three decades, Jean-Louis Dutraive has quietly established himself as one of the best winemakers in Beaujolais, and one of the most involved members of the French wine community. In both Fleurie and Brouilly, his wines are highly traditional, terroir-driven and unmistakably Dutraive-ian in style: muscular, plush and more than a bit fauve. These are exuberant, fruit-forward cru Beaujolais, with distinct tannin structure.
A rarity for a 21st century winemaker, each of Jean-Louis's three children want to follow in his footsteps as vignerons—which will, in time, entail splitting a relatively small domaine three ways, thanks to French inheritance laws. In the meantime, it means sourcing certified organic grapes from friends and neighbors to create silky, energetic wines under the Famille Dutraive label. As the region has been ravaged by hail in recent vintages, this project is especially crucial, and these classic, semi-carbonic wines speak to the very soul of Beaujolais.
Then there’s twenty-something Justin, whose first standalone vintage was in 2015. His wines are truly wild, typically released without even a touch of sulfur, and if his father’s wines are muscular, his are wiry and graceful. Transparently raspberry-red in color, with bright acidity and a savory hit of dried herb, it’s no surprise that these wines are darlings of the natural wine scene.