Winemaker of the Month - Manoir du Carra, Beaujolais


Peter Gentilli

Beaujolais. A word that can strike fear into many a wine drinker who’s been scarred by the tart, acidic, mouth puckering wines released on the 3rd Thursday in November at 12.01am every year and celebrated as Beaujolais Nouveau. Fortunately however, the majestic wines of Manoir du Carra could not be more different and are an excellent antidote to the ‘nouveau’ wines (which aren’t all bad).


You’ll find the winery in Dencié, a village in the south of the Beaujolais region of Burgundy between Mâcon and Lyon. Here the vines have been tended by 5 generations of the Sambardier family and are currently overseen by Jean-Noêl and his two sons Frédéric and Damien. Their philosophy is a simple one. Whilst they don’t eschew technological advances in winemaking and vineyard management the emphasis is very much on lutte raisonnée, in other words organic farming where the biodiversity of the vineyards is key to the quality of fruit produced by the vines. No pesticides or herbicides are used, instead the vineyard habitat is managed so that it can look after itself, just as Mother Nature intended. All the grapes are hand-picked, carefully selected and no sulphur is used in the winemaking. The wines are also bottled unfiltered so as to retain all the delightful flavour elements often lost in the filtering process.


The 34 hectares belonging to the Domaine, growing predominantly Gamay, are spread across the length of the Beaujolais region from Julienàs in the north to Cogny in the south via the Crus of Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie and Brouilly. In the south they grow a little Chardonnay which makes their excellent Bourgogne Blanc, or should that be Beaujolais Blanc? A testament to Frédérics winemaking, all the reds perfectly show off Gamay’s pretty, raspberry flavours and refreshing acidity that epitomises the perfect summer red wine. As well as tasting beautiful when young, the Cru wines have the ability to mature and evolve in the cellar, an unusual feat for Gamay based wines.


So if you’ve had a bad Beaujolais experience please give the wines of Manoir du Carra a try, I guarantee you’ll be singing the praises of Beaujolais afterwards!


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