Thibault Ducroux

Beaujolais En Roue Libre


 

Quick facts:

Location: Villié-Morgon, Beaujolais, France

Owner & winemaker: Thibault Ducroux

Vineyard area: 6.5 hectares across 3 AOCs (1.25 estate-owned, the rest in long-term rental)

Vineyard management: practicing organics (in conversion)

Soils: silt and clay (Beaujolais), granite and schist (Morgon), pink granite (Fleurie)

Main varieties: Gamay

Annual production (approx.): 10,000 – 30,000 bottles

Winemaking: hand-harvest only, carbonic maceration. Indigenous yeast only, concrete vats and old barrels. No fining, no filter, little sulfur at bottling if necessary.

Fun facts:

  • Thibault became passionate about wine already at a tender age while helping his winemaker father
  • His curiosity for natural wine was sparked by the writings of Jules Chauvet, the “father of natural winemaking”, which led Thibault to discover a whole new way of making wine
  • Thibault then deepened his knowledge and dedication through encounters with Beaujolais natural trail blazers like Jean Claude Lapalu, Michel Guignier, Isabelle & Bruno Perraud or Valentin Morel from Jura, and also by working for Julien Sunier in Beaujolais.
  • As one of his wines suggests, Thibault is also a big cycling enthusiast. He’s given up racing for a club after becoming a full-time winemaker, but he still storms the Beaujolais slopes each weekend just for fun!

 

Thibault Ducroux is one of those winemakers who has been enticed by the vine from practically a toddler’s age: the son of a Beaujolais grower, he recalls how quickly he became passionate while learning the basics of the trade in his father’s cellar. His desire to understand more about vine-growing led him to study a classical viticulture-enology course in the region, but the real game-changer came when he discovered the works of Jules Chauvet, the ingenious 20th-century research chemist, winemaker and négociant venerated as the father of the French natural wine movement.

“His works challenged me and finally convinced me that there are different ways of making wine,” the young, athletic and ever-smiling Thibault explains what led him to get in touch with more of his Beaujolais natural winemaking fellows, such as Jean Claude Lapalu, Michel Guignier, Isabelle and Bruno Perraud or Valentin Morel in Jura. The path was set: once the diploma was in his pocket, Ducroux started to work for another dedicated, up-and-coming Beaujolais grower Julien Sunier, where he learned the ropes of organic viticulture and natural vinifications. 

At the same time, Thibault also purchased 1.25 hectares of vines in the Beaujolais AOC that gave birth to his very first wine in 2019. This light-headed, fruity and crunchy Gamay is called En Roue Libre (“Freewheeling”) – a smart choice of name that honors both hands-off natural winemaking methods and Thibault’s love for cycling. (He even used to race in a club before dedicating himself to full-time winemaking, and the bike still remains a big weekend pleasure.)

In 2020, Thibault secured a long-term rental of 5 more hectares of old Gamay vines in the Morgon and Fleurie crus. All the vineyards are cultivated according to organic principles and are awaiting certification. Together with the high density of plantation (10,000 plants per hectare) and the impressive age of the vines (50 years on average), this allows Thibault to make wines that offer beautiful structure and terroir focus. In the cellar, the traditional Beaujolais practice of whole-bunch carbonic maceration is de rigueur, using indigenous yeast only. No further manipulations or additives, save for a tiny bit of sulfur at bottling, are used, just as Thibaut learned from all his colleagues. 

When tasting the 2020 wines, we were quite impressed by their purity and the clear and compelling winemaking vision of their creator, a man still in his early twenties and only on his second vintage. Adding these promising gourmand wines to our book was a no-brainer, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this dedicated natural racer…  It’s such  a pleasure to see that the Beaujolais, a region that has already gifted the natural wine world with so many dedicated, iconic winemakers, still has fresh talent to spare!

 


Beaujolais “En Roue Libre”

The 2019 vintage of this wine was Thibault’s very first wine, made from his first purchased parcel. It is called En Roue Libre (French term for freewheeling, or neutral gear) – a name that honors both hands-off natural winemaking methods and Thibault’s love for cycling. (He even used to race in a club before dedicating himself to full-time winemaking, and the bike still remains a big weekend pleasure.)

Grapes: Gamay

Vineyard: clay-silt, the average age of vines 40 years. Organically farmed by Thibault himself.

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and then undergo the traditional whole-bunch carbonic maceration. Spontaneous fermentation, aging on fine lees in concrete vat for 8 months. No fining, no filtration, max. 2ppm of SO2 added at bottling.

Personality: light-headed, fruity and crunchy Bojo as we like it! Serve well chilled with some good charcuterie or goat cheese to nibble on.


Morgon

2020 is the first-ever vintage of this wine for Thibault, hailing from a parcel he took in a long-term rental in the cru of Morgon. Incredibly promising!

Grape: Gamay

Vineyard: Corcelette, a plot of 50yo vines on granite and schist. Farmed organically by Thibault himself

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and then undergo the traditional whole-bunch carbonic maceration. Spontaneous fermentation, aging on fine lees in old barriques for 8 months. No fining, no filtration, max. 2ppm of SO2 added at bottling.

Personality: beautifully concentrated, deep and pleasantly mineral example of Morgon. Beautiful structure, loads of fruits and pleasant aftertaste, quite stunning for a first take. Space to watch (and enjoy).


Fleurie

2020 is the first-ever vintage of this wine for Thibault, hailing from a parcel he has in a long-term rental in the cru of Fleurie. Incredibly promising!

Grape: Gamay

Vineyard: Grille-Midi, a plot of 50yo vines on pink granite. Farmed organically by Thibault himself

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and then undergo the traditional whole-bunch carbonic maceration. Spontaneous fermentation, aging on fine lees in old barriques for 8 months. No fining, no filtration, max. 2ppm of SO2 added at bottling.

Personality: floral, fresh, fascinating… Well-build palate with nice body and vivid, succulent finish