Although Beaujolais is often considered to be a southern satellite of the Burgundy region, the majority of it actually lies within the administrative department of Rhône, in the Rhône-Alpes region. It is a very pretty area, with green rolling hills and the remnants of extinct volcanoes in the north (where all of the individual “crus” are situated) and flatter land in the south (where most generic Beaujolais is produced). The soil is mainly granitic - and also quite acidic – whilst the climate is slightly warmer than most of Burgundy. The wines are mainly red, and made from a single grape variety - Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc - and are characterised by juicy flavours of strawberry, raspberry and cherry, with some of the heavier "Cru" wines also displaying notes of darker berry fruits. Some good rosé is also made, along with a relatively small amount of white (mostly Chardonnay).
We first visited Domaine Daniel Rampon in 2003, when we started our business, and his wines were amongst the first we imported. But although we ourselves always had a soft spot for top-notch Beaujolais, we found it a bit of a hard sell at the time. As a result, after 2 or 3 years, Rampon's wines (and Beaujolais wines in general) slowly but surely disappeared from our list.
Fast-forward around a decade and - whilst travelling through the region in summer 2018, on our way south - we visited the Rampon cave once again, to taste and buy a selection of wines for our holiday. And they were a revelation! Daniel’s wines were always good, but in the intervening years, they had become *really* good. For one reason or another (not least our Covid-induced exile from France, over the past couple of years) it has taken until late 2021 for us to bring these wines into the UK once again. But better late than never!
Daniel Rampon is now a very sprightly 67 years of age, and has in recent years been joined at the helm by his 36 year-old son Christophe. Along with red, white and rosé Beaujolais Villages, they also have vineyard holdings in and around 4 of the 10 official "cru" villages - Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin à Vent and Chiroubles - including plots on the famous slopes of Fleurie La Madone (pictured above) and Morgon Côte de Py. The vines (of which there are 12.5 hectares in total) are mostly aged between 50 and 70 years and all of the harvesting is done by hand.
The Rampon house and cellar is situated in a small hamlet, a couple of kilometres outside the village of Villié-Morgon (pictured right).
The winemaking process is a cross between carbonic maceration and more traditional whole-bunch fermentation, with the grapes being placed (un-crushed) into large fibre glass vats, which have tops, but are not sealed. The grapes then macerate and ferment for between 7 and 15 days, depending on the style of wine, before being pressed. Once fermentation has finished, most of the wines are placed in either concrete tanks or stainless steel vats for a few months, prior to bottling, whilst certain cuvées are aged in used oak barrels.
All wines are sealed under DIAM corks - DIAM 1 for the wines to be drunk young and DIAM 3 for the more age-worthy wines. We have no less than 11 different wines from the Rampon range. Why so many wines from one grower? Because they are all so delicious, and show just how distinctive and individual the wines from each of the Beaujolais crus can be. Give them a try - you won't be disappointed!