This past June, three months before his passing, Eric Texier and I were graciously welcomed into Marcel Lapierre vines and home. I knew he was ill, while there was more gravitas than I was used to seeing from him, his strength seemed solid, he ate and drank and spoke heartedly. And he still laughed. He allowed himself to be interviewed for the book. It had to happen, because as I found out, all roads lead to Marcel.
Here is a little except from my working draft.
With Mathieu and my right, we commenced with fat white fingers asparagus with a light as frothed whipped cream mayonnaise as Marcel held forth.
“I was in viticutural school from 1966-1969. Before that this area was filled with other agriculture, wine was not the only revenue, so it wasn’t necessary to have a vintage every year. If you lost a vintage, you didn’t starve. But as monoculture came in so did an abject fear of piqure lactique-- which brings about malolactic before alcoholic fermentation which leads to instablity and can lead to an abundance of lacto bacilus.
Because of the fear, a recipe emerged: pick unripe grapes, like at 8% alcohol so you have a high acid and low pH, more stability but not enough sugar to ferment, so to get the right alcohol you add as much sugar as you want, then you heated up the juice to start as quickly as possible.
You heated it up so hot, you killed everything all the life so you had to add yeast.
Speed was important.
The message is better to chaptalize than to harvest ripe and suffer the consequences.
It took Marcel nine years to become fed up. In 1978 he started to experiment with no sulfur and he had heard that a man, was making quite nice wine in that way. Enter Saint Jules.
“La premiere fois que j’ai rencontre Jules Chauvet, il m’a dit, Les deux mammels du Beaujolais ce sont le suce et le souffre,; said Marcel. Everyone laughed. I got most of it except for the key point, I wondered if mammels were some sort of animals. “Do you know what that means?” asked Eric and continued, “When Marcel first met Chauvet, the scientist said to him that the two tits of the Beaujolais are sugar and sulfur.”
Those breasts started the collaboration that rocked the wine world.
Last week, I spoke with Kermit Lynch, his American importer who said, "I cannot imagine a life without Marcel."
Sending thoughts and condolences to Marie, Mathieu, the Lapierre family, nephew Philippe Pacalet and to all who knew and loved him and can't imagine the world without him.