Laurence & Rémi Dufaitre
Our recent trip to Beaujolais came after a few days tasting some of our favorite producers in the Jura. We’ll dive into our Jura trip in the coming weeks but one thing that stuck out to me while we were on our way to Beuajolais, was how a local natural wine shop owner referred to people from Beaujolais. “They like to party!” It still makes me smile thinking about how that was his statement about the Gamay capital of the world. But you know what, in their own way- It’s true. And I cannot think of a better example than the wines and the people behind Laurence and Remi Dufaitre. We initially met Remi in 2019 before we opened and were immediately drawn in by his infectious enthusiasm and delicious wines. We also realized that he likes to party. Ask us about our time at the Ten Bells with him sometime. It’s an in-person type of story :)
Connecting with Laurence and Remi in Beaujolais was a dream of ours and it came together pretty last minute, but glorious nonetheless. We arrived at the winery in the village of Saint-Étienne-des-Oullières, which is towards the southern end of Beaujolais. The winery is pretty new and Remi was excited to show us the walls which are constructed out of bricks that were made from compacted straw and mud. It’s really impressive and is clear that Laurence and Remi care about sustainable architecture as much as they care about natural wine.
The first thing I want to let you know is that Laurence is as important to the project as Remi. Remi has a big personality and admittedly we have erroneously referred to the wines just as Remi’s wines, but from now on they are “Laurence and Remi’s” wines. Laurence designed the labels and had a large hand in the design of the winery, the business of the winery, and has a say in the winemaking, even though Remi does the actual winemaking.
Laurence and Remi are no longer together as life partners, but they have a healthy working relationship and seem to get along very well.
Remi tasted us through several new vintages of his wines, including several wines that we never see in the US. He told us about the “Super Remi” label that was created for the Japanese market and how we needed to track it down. If you’ve seen it in the shop it’s the eye-catching label that has Remi, well, “superfied.” We were lucky enough to eventually special order some and get it here at the shop.
In tasting with Remi, we mentioned that we had just left the Foillard winery and had a great time with Fanny. He immediately texts Jean to tell his mentor and friend that we are now tasting with him. It was an example of how small the Beaujolias community is, but what he went on to tell us is how Jean helped Laurence and Remi get their start. Imagine this. Jean Foillard likes your wine as a new winemaker and tells you to get in his truck, and that he’s taking you to Paris to sell your wine. After seeing the clear respect from Remi regarding Jean, this act of kindness and mentorship really meant a lot to him. He tells us that Jean went from Restaurant to Restaurant in Paris introducing and encouraging his buyers to taste the Dufaitre wines. It also connected me back to when we first met Remi and we were in the Ten Bells in New York and Remi became loud, and seemingly upset, about the list not having his friends and even more importantly his mentor, Jean Foillard, available on the list.
We had a great tasting with Remi and as we were ready to pack it up - Remi asks us if we would like to see his wine bar and market to try one of his beers that he was excited for us to tate. “Sounds Great!”
His market is beautiful. It’s rustic and filled with organic produce and has an incredible wine selection. Remi’s new partner is the chef and she is a lovely, gracious host. Remi’s kids take our kids to the park to play and we are ready for a chill afternoon tasting that one beer that Remi is excited about. As soon as we sit down Charly Thévenet, son of Jean-Paul walks in. He’s a good looking man and looks like he works out more than he sits around eating cheese and drinking wine. Charly is with his family and we start conversing about the weather. There is a pending hailstorm that he and Remi are starting to become visibly stressed about. They let us know that hail is very rare this time of year, but that it could destroy the vintage if it is as bad as the radar looks. We proceed to try a few more things from the market and it feels like Remi is texting all of his friends to come hang. Soon Camille LaPierre’s partner shows up with a friend and now we have half of the Gang of Four represented! Remi decides to pop a few of his wines, and for the first time we get to meet Laurence when she shows up with her new partner. Laurence wasn’t able to make the tasting earlier but she wants to taste through all of the wines again with us and her friends. We later get a report from Charly that the hail did hit, but fortunately their vineyards were spared. After that, there was quite the relief for the remainder of the evening! And more wine…
We had a memorable time and made some lasting friendships with Remi and his family. We are expecting him and his crew to crash with us here in Alabama someday and our crew will be piled up with his crew soon enough again in France!
Brandon and Trent