The estate of Domaine de la Grand Cour dates back to 1969 when it was purchased by Jean Dutraive, making it one of the oldest in the village of Fleurie. Jean Dutraive was joined by his son and fifth generation vigneron Jean-Louis in 1977. By 1989, the reins were fully in Jean-Louis’ capable hands. The heart of the property are the lieux-dits of Clos de la Grand Cour, Chapelle des Bois and Champagne which make up a total of 9 hectares of vines in Fleurie, surrounding the house and cellars. Additionally, the family has 1.6 hectares in the cru of Brouilly. The average age of the vines are around 40-50 years, with a good chunk around 70 years old.
Jean-Louis is a devout practitioner of organic viticulture and the property has been certified by ECOCERT since 2009, though was practicing organic for many years before that. Harvest at Dutraive is done by hand and grapes are immediately placed in tank at low temperatures to begin carbonic maceration (without sulfur). The wines ferment naturally with indigenous yeast and are macerated on the skins for anywhere from 15-30 days depending on the vintage and the particular wine. The wines are then gravity fed to the cellar for a period of ageing of 6-15 months, depending on the cuvée. Elevage occurs mostly in used burgundy barrels, though the Fleurie Grand Cour, Fleurie Chapelle des Bois and Brouilly are sometimes aged at least partially in old foudres or cement tanks depending on the vintage. Minimal S02 is added during the élévage, only when necessary, though a small amount is added when the wines are racked and assembled for bottling. And in general, no fining and filtration is used unless absolutely required.
The wines of Jean-Louis Dutraive are some of the most unique aromatically and texturally in all of Beaujolais. One whiff, and the wines display an almost exotic floral and spicy aroma overlayed over lush minerally Gamay fruit, sort of like a top Morey St. Denis 1er or Grand Cru nose combined with earthy, Volnay-like fruit. There is also a textural lushness and exuberance backed up by ample structure and acid. These are substantial Beaujolais, and ones that could certainly stand up to food. They also have the requisite material to develop and evolve over the medium term, i.e. 10-12 years of aging, easily!
Domaine de la Grand’Cour is truly an exciting yet still under-the-radar estate (always exciting to get in early!), and Jean-Louis Dutraive deserves his place at the top of the ranks in Fleurie.