Marcel Lapierre • Natural Wine Pioneer

Marcel Lapierre | Natural Wine Pioneer

One of France's founders of the natural wine movement is widely regarded as the French winemaker, Marcel Lapierre. Lapierre's approach to winemaking, which emphasized minimal intervention and the use of natural methods, has inspired a new generation of winemakers to embrace natural techniques and minimal intervention in their work. 

Lapierre was born in 1950 in the center of the Beaujolais region in Villié-Morgon. Lapierre grew up in the vineyards, where his father, Camille Lapierre, also made wine, picking up the trade at a young age. Lapierre was greatly influenced by the writings of chemist and winemaker Jules Chauvet, who promoted a simple method of winemaking to let the wine express the terroir and personality of the grapes.

The tenets of Chauvet's philosophy served as the foundation for Lapierre's winemaking. He practiced minimal intervention winemaking, allowing the wine to ferment and age naturally without undue intervention. He was a strong proponent of using native yeasts and avoiding chemical additives. Lapierre's wines are renowned for their fruit purity and lively acidity because they are produced using the traditional Beaujolais carbonic maceration method.

Lapierre's wines quickly gained a following among fans of natural wines, and his method of winemaking inspired a new generation of vignerons to use natural methods and little intervention. Lapierre's impact on the natural wine movement is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he is frequently referred to as one of the "Gang of Four," a group of natural winemakers that also includes Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet.

Lapierre's winemaking philosophy and dedication to natural methods and interventions impacted all of these winemakers. His influence on the wine industry is substantial, though, at the beginning, he found a lot of opposition from the establishment. He demonstrated that wines of great depth and complexity could be made with natural methods and little intervention in the cellar. Lapierre's approach to winemaking encouraged a new generation of winemakers to use natural methods and avoid additives in their production.

Lastly, Lapierre was a fervent supporter of environmental preservation and the significance of sustainability in agriculture. He tirelessly promoted sustainable farming methods because he believed that winemakers had a duty to take care of the land and lessen the harmful effects of their work on the environment.


Marcel's Wines

Marcel Lapierre was famous for his wines, which he made using the traditional Beaujolais carbonic maceration technique, which he took to new heights. These wines are known for their fruit-forwardness, bright acidity, and smooth texture. Lapierre's wines were made from the Gamay grape, the most widely planted grape varietal in the Beaujolais region of France.

One of Lapierre's most well-known wines was his Morgon. Morgon is one of the appellations of Beaujolais, one of the so-called Cru Beaujolais—the best and most sought-after Beaujolais wines. The wine is medium-bodied, with bright red fruit flavors, hints of earth, and some spice, depending on the vintage. Lapierre used to age his Morgon Beaujolais briefly in oak barrels to add a subtle layer of complexity and structure to the wine without overpowering the fruity character.

Lapierre also produced other wines, including a Fleurie, a Chénas, and a Vin de Pays des Gaules. Marcel's wines were made from grapes farmed organically without pesticides or any other chemical product.


The Lapierres Today

Marcel Lapierre's estate is now run by his son, Mathieu Lapierre, who continues his father's legacy of producing natural wines using traditional Beaujolais techniques. Mathieu took over the estate in 2010 after his father's passing and has worked to maintain the same high standards of winemaking that his father established.

Mathieu is committed to organic and biodynamic farming practices and works closely with the vineyards to ensure the highest quality of the grapes. Like his father, Mathieu employs minimal intervention in the winemaking process, allowing the wine to ferment and age naturally without excessive manipulation or chemical additives.

Under Mathieu's leadership, the estate has continued to produce high-quality wines that reflect the region's unique terroir. His wines have been well-received by critics and natural wine enthusiasts alike, helping to cement the Lapierre family's reputation as one of the leading producers of natural wines in France.

PHOTO BY TRIPLE A

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