Need a recommendation? Email us at email@example.com
'We are talking about making natural wines, with a lot of hygiene, and impressive facilities. But actually, it is also possible to make great wines using the bear minimum, a reminder that the most important is to emphasise the effort in having great raw material.'
When meeting Jules Métras, a young winemaker in his early 30s, you quickly realise that you are interacting with someone who has traveled far and wide before committing to working with his family’s winery. Indeed, before coming back to his native Beaujolais in 2010, to help his father Yvon tend the vines, Jules explored different areas and worked with the best in the Ardèche and the Jura. His soif for knowledge and desire to explore lead him to work in the southern hemisphere (New Zealand, Chile & Argentina) whenever the season in Beaujolais came to an end.
Working with different varieties broadened his knowledge of the plant and his winemaking techniques. For instance, being able to work with a 450-year-old vineyard of Paîs, which still has good yields, certainly impacts the way you farm! Especially if you are able to work these grapes in a Beaujolais style! After visiting the chai, he took us to his private cellar where we would discuss his travels and the wines he likes to drink. It felt as if we were talking to a veteran sommelier; his network is broad, he has a perceptive understanding of current tastes in the market, and he himself enjoys a vast range of wines.
Jules has roots in the Beaujolais, several generations deep, and is following in his father’s footsteps, who started producing wine in 1988. Yvon’s wines have had quite an impact in the wine world, and the cuvée Ultime from Fleurie, made from 120-year-old vines, is one of the greatest examples of Beaujolais you can find. Now, Jules works 3ha of vines that he bottles under his own name. The other 3.5ha of the estate, that he also works, are still bottled under his dad’s name, Yvon, until he retires in two harvests’ time. Jules started producing his own wine in 2014, working with 1ha of his Bijou vineyard located in Vauxrenard at 450m of altitude. This parcel is composed of sandy-clay, richer soils than in Chiroubles, which is where his other vineyards are. He only works the soil in this vineyard with a horse that he bought a few years back.
The other vineyards are located in Chiroubles, closer to the parts of Beaujolais that do not have vineyards, otherwise known as “the green Beaujolais”. This area is primarily used for things like cattle breeding, logging, etc., and historically has been too cold for vine growing. Having vineyards on this steep terroir, the Métras family have to work their soil in most of these vineyards using a cable-powered plow. Jules mentioned that this accounts for 75% of the mechanical work. They barely use the enjambeur tractor, avoiding heavy machinery that could compact their soil.
For us, Jules’ wines have an alluring air of familiarity about them, having been fans of Yvon’s wines for so long; this is unsurprising, considering Jules central role in the farming and production over the past decade. But more than that, they strike a distinction that fascinates us. In light of the years ahead, these wines are an insight into where the family estate, and the region as a whole, is heading.