A Tribute to Marcel Lapierre (1950-2010)

Marcel Lapierre Tribute

As has been widely reported, Marcel Lapierre, one of the finest producers in Beaujolais and a leader of the French natural wine movement, has died aged 60.

Bibendum has imported his fabulous Morgon for many, many years and we were saddened to hear of his passing. Our thoughts are with Marcel’s wife, Marie and children Mathieu, Camille and Anne. Mathieu, who has worked alongside his father since 2005, will continue to make wine at the domaine.

Marcel was a hero to many as one of the first vignerons to embrace biodynamics, minimal use of sulphur and wild yeasts. He produced three versions of his famous Morgon: an unsulphured and unfiltered version, a very lightly sulphured and unfiltered version, and one that was both sulphured and filtered.

The unsulphured version is the one for which he is perhaps most famous. It is also the one you are least likely to encounter. Marcel knew that for it to be at its best it had to be kept at a temperature no higher than 14C and he only sold it to those he knew could transport it and store it in optimum conditions. For all his passion for wine in its most natural state, he was no dogmatist and above all he just wanted his wines to be enjoyed.

And enjoyable they are. Deliciously so. They are wines to drink with good company and even better food. There are more complex and more intellectual wines in the world of wine but few that offer so much pleasure. Of all the tweets yesterday in tribute to Marcel, the one that resonated most with me came from @SlateWine : “Sad news: Marcel Lapierre has passed away. Can’t think of any wines that have given me more pleasure than his Morgon.”

As Tim Marson MW said: “It is a fitting testament to this legendary winemaker that Marcel’s last full vintage was the incredible 2009.” Reviewing that wine in a recent issue of the Wine Advocate, David Schildknecht noted: “If there has been a finer example of this wine, I can’t recall it.” We’ll be raising a glass or two of it this week.

The blogosphere is full of tributes from people who knew Marcel and his wines far better than me. Here is just a short selection for anyone who would like to read more:

Eric Asimov in the New York Times

Alice Feiring on The Feiring Line

Gareth Groves
12th October 2010

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