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Gregoire Hoppenot

Gregoire Hoppenot

All Guns Blazing: Beaujolais from “…One of the region’s most exciting emerging talents” [William Kelley]

For a winemaker who was yet to prune a vine in 2017, Grégoire Hoppenot has made a hell of a start. After releasing his second vintage, Hoppenot was crowned with the prestigious Newcomer of the Year award by France’s La Revue du Vin de France, and the critical accolades have flowed on from there. 

Although light on practical experience initially, Hoppenot knows these hills well. Before founding his domaine, Hoppenot was régisseur at Chapoutier’s Burgundy arm, Maison Trénel. Previously he had made the wines at Vignerons de Bel-Air, a 100-year-old cooperative with 250 growers on its roster. Following his dream to start a family estate, Grégoire left Trénel in 2017 to earn his growing stripes with Pierre-Marie Chermette. 

The plan was to work with the region’s great growers for several years while piecing together enough vineyards to strike out on his own. Lady luck had other ideas. No sooner than he started working with Chermette, Hoppenot caught wind of the impending lease of Domaine Les Roches de Garants, the estate of the retiring Jean-Paul Champagnon. To cut a long story short, despite many suitors, Champagnon was impressed with the energetic young grower’s vision for the estate and his plans to convert all the vineyards to organics. The documents were signed early in 2018.

Hoppenot confessed to us that the idea of going from zero to taking on nine hectares was a daunting one. Working with organics is central to Hoppenot’s philosophy, and while applying an organic regime in old Goblet vines—where a tractor cannot be used—is tough enough at the best of times, doing so on the steep hillsides of Les Garants and Poncié is another matter altogether. Have you ever wondered why there are so few organic domaines in Beaujolais? Indeed, during negotiations with Champagnon, Hoppenot had asked whether the retiring grower would be willing to split the vineyards down the middle, and he would take half? The answer was no, yet Hoppenot knew he could not walk away given the terroirs in question.

Hoppenot’s nine hectares span the gamut of Fleurie’s finest terroirs and are all based in the north of the climat close to Moulin-a-Vent. There are old vines in Poncié, Les Garants, Les Roches and Les Moriers as well as a small parcel of centurion vines in La Roilette. The icing on the cake, according to Hoppenot, is the monopole of the Clos de l’Amandier, a 0.75-hectare lieu-dit at the foot of Poncié.

Organics are being rolled out in stages, with cover crops and regenerative agriculture techniques used to improve the health of the soil. Hoppenot has also found time to replant a parcel in his largest holding, Les Moriers, cordon trained to enable the grower to use the tractor for biodynamic treatments, cultivation and to run a taller canopy. 

Inherited as part of the lease, the winery is about large enough to swing a cat, and enjoys a stunning panorama over Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent. The wines are naturally vinified in concrete tanks with whole bunches. Macerations last for a couple of weeks, and the temperature is kept below 30 degrees Celsius. Only the single-terroir parcel of Les Moriers takes in more extended maceration, and this wine is primarily aged in large oak foudre. No sulphur is added until after malolactic, yet the wines remain pure and stable. From a merchant/winemaking background, Hoppenot has what we might call a ‘technical palate’ and abhors faults or off flavours. At our recent visit, we tasted most of the wines Hoppenot has released going back to 2018, and despite the low sulphur additions, each wine was as clean as a whistle.

The style is one of purity and precision with a focus on freshness, transparency and elegance. Although the cru wines will age do not come to these wines looking for blockbusters. Instead, these are wines of delicacy, floral-scented fruits, freshness and minerality. A star is born.

Region

Beaujolais, France

Wine Maker

Grégoire Hoppenot

What They Are Saying

“[Hoppenot] emphasizes the importance of texture among his aesthetic priorities. The results are perfumed, supple and charming. With three vintages under his belt to date, he hasn't missed a beat so far, and Hoppenot gets my nod as one of the region's most exciting emerging talents.” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

“I would tip Grégoire Hoppenot to develop into a major player in the appellation.” Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy

"Hoppenot is a bit of a star," Jancis Robinson MW

 “Grégoire Hoppenot is to be followed closely... A great future in Fleurie!” La Revue du Vin de France 

Gregoire Hoppenot

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