The chapel of La Madone sits high on the hill that dominates the charming village of Fleurie, and perched on top of the chapel, imperiously surveying the vineyards below, is the statue of La Dame de la Pétoche. The chapel was built in 1866, and local myth has it that in 1870, when the Prussian invasion of France was halted on the adjacent hill, it was she who ‘put the wind up them’ (pétoche). Today it is the vineyards she protects – all 10 of the Crus Beaujolais appellations are visible from her vantage point.
The landscape is rugged yet beautiful, and its vertiginous slopes have been tamed to grow the Gamay grape, which here produces one of the most famous wines in the world – Fleurie. Its pretty name is indicative of its heady, floral bouquet, and the silky smooth, voluptuous fruit suggests a beautiful, feminine character – yet, like La Dame on her chapel, it has a steely backbone, in keeping with the rugged terrain from which it springs.
It is on the southwest-facing slopes of this granite hillside that Jean-Marc Desprès and his son Arnaud cultivate their 13 hectares of vines – indeed, the vines you can see immediately below the chapel of La Madone all belong to them. We first visited Domaine de la Madone many years ago and have enjoyed the wine and their welcome many times. So when we started looking for a Beaujolais vineyard, it was natural that we should ask Jean-Marc first, although we did not hold out much hope – he doesn’t produce huge quantities of wine, and it wins lots of prizes, including numerous Gold medals in Paris. Imagine our surprise and delight therefore, when he not only agreed to welcome 3D Partners but also to produce a unique cuvée just for us – from his oldest and best vines.