BEFORE THE GANG OF FOUR: DUTRAIVE'S CLOS DE LA GRAND COUR
The gang of four deservedly get most of the attention when it comes to Beaujolais' resurgence, however, I would argue that one of their most important contributions is opening up a market for those winemakers who have been practicing the same low-intervention, Burgundian-style wine making all along.
Enter Jean-Louis Dutraive who's family winery, Domaine de la Grand Cour, predates all four members of the Gang of Four. The family has farmed the same 9 hectares in Fleurie since 1969. The core of their holdings are in the north side of Fleurie on thin clay topsoil over deep pink granite. The soil and wines have more in common with Moulin-a-Vent's full bodied style than the typically lighter styles of Fleurie (eg: Clos Roillette, Domaine Chignard). In fact, the Clos de la Grand Cour is only an hour's walk from the windmill that gives Moulin-a-Vent its name.
Dutriave ferments his fruit with 100% whole clusters and zero sulfur before a year of aging in 1/3 each small barrels, foudre, and steel. He describes his Clos de la Grand Cour as "Beaune Rouge" in style- bright and fruity with plenty of complexity and structure to reward 5+ years of aging.
Beyond his land in Fleurie, Dutraive farms a 1.6 ha plot in Brouilly planted to old vines (average age is 50 years with many vines over 100) originally established by his father. The clay/limestone soils here give an even more full bodied expression of Gamay. Accordingly, whole cluster is dialed back to and 40% of the wine ages in used barrique before being bottled unfined & unfiltered. While everything Dutraive makes nods towards Burgundy, this is considerably more structured and earthy than his Fleurie, evoking more of Pommard's rusticity and slowly evolving complexity. Both of these wines stand as some of the longest running examples of Beajolais' ability to produce complex, age worthy wines at any level. - WP