From €14.90, $23, 179 Danish krone, 280 Norwegian krone, AU$47, HK$298, £76 per case of 6 ib (equivalent to £17.83 dpd per bottle)
She was born in South Korea to farmers, adopted at nine months old by a French couple, educated in France and then headed to the US, where she did an undergraduate biochemistry degree specialising in wine science at Oregon State University. The university then accepted her to do her Masters, where she took on a graduate research assistant role in the Department of Food Science and Technology, studying polyphenolics, plant physiology and ‘a bit of viticulture’. After this she came back home to France and headed to Montpellier to do the Diplôme National d'Oenologue.
Mee Godard didn’t grow up in a winemaking family, so she had to carve her own path. She headed to Burgundy, interned at Maison Chanson, Domaines des Comtes Lafon and Corton André. She got a job selling oenological products, worked in Champagne, and then, at the beginning of 2013, she finally found five Beaujolais hectares (12 acres) she could call her own.
When I asked her why she picked Beaujolais, she replied, ‘I discovered the region during a wine-tasting trip with friends and I was surprised by the quality! Beautiful wines, beautiful atmosphere and beautiful landscape. Apparently, this was the good combination.’
These weren’t just any old five hectares. Thanks to contacts made while holding the position of vice president of Oenologues de France Region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Mee ended up with 1.7 ha (4.2 acre) of Morgon, Côte du Py, 2.3 ha (5.7 acre) of Morgon, Corcelette, and 1 ha (2.5 acre) of Morgon, Grand Cras. Right from the start, she began working according to the principles of lutte raisonnée but by 2016 she’d begun working organically, getting rid of herbicides and using mechanical tillage in 2017. The longer-term goal is to introduce biodynamic practices into the vineyard. She also took over, in 2017, just over a hectare of Moulin-à-Vent, Les Michelons. The picture below is of the very evidently alive, granite soil at the base of her old vine trunks.
Yields from these old vines are low. Grapes are hand picked, hand sorted and, depending on the vintage, she ferments about two-thirds with stems. They undergo a three-week maceration in concrete tanks and then age in a mix of old and new barrels and foudres for 12 to 18 months. She’s played around with indigenous yeasts and in 2018 the wines went through ambient-yeast fermentation with a pied de cuve (the wine equivalent of a sourdough starter, using natural vineyard yeast). But that, she adds, doesn’t always work.
Until 2017, she managed the entire vineyard by herself, but since she’s acquired the Michelons plot, she’s had someone to come and help part time.
The Corcelette vineyard is on south-east-facing granite slopes from two vineyards called Bellevue and Montillet. The vines, an average of 70 years old, are planted very densely at 11,000 vines/ha (4,500 vines/acre) and gobelet trained.
I’ve deliberately not chosen a specific vintage, although this wine of the week was prompted by a recent tasting of the 2017, which I described as ‘dark-suited, achingly pure fruit. Like plum-sweet jewels carved into the core. Velvet-smudged, powder-fine tannins, dry and sifted through loose rose-petal fragrance. Tea leaves. Strong imprint, and yet delicate. It makes me think of a fine-brush painting in monochrome. It feels like a child's breath on your cheeks.’ All her vintages have so far proved to be excellent, if different from one another, demonstrating the consistency and transparency of a good winemaker. I have had the pleasure of tasting them all ever since she contacted us by email back in 2014 asking whether she could send us samples of her wines.
She has a way of bringing out the dark, gravel-scented structure of Morgon without losing a modicum of glowing fruit. They are wines that evolve beautifully with age, and yet they are compelling when young. They have power, and yet a tangible quietness. The tannins are super-fine, the acidities strung like a violin. They’re wines that would grace the finest table, but would give equal pleasure on a picnic. You don’t need food to enjoy them.
Out of the four (sometimes five – she makes a ‘selection’ wine when the grapes are especially good) wines Mee makes, I’ve chosen Corcelette as wine of the week simply because it is the most widely available around the world and is the most affordable. But to be very honest, with all her wines under £30, and all of them stunning, elegant, vin de garde beaujolais, you couldn’t go wrong with any Godard wine you can lay your hands on (see here for the tasting notes). I’ve been tasting Mee’s wines pretty much from the start and can say without any hesitation that they are some of the classiest beaujolais around.
The Corcelette can be found in the UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Hong Kong and the US (Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, New York State and Florida). Raeburn Fine Wines are selling the 2017 vintage at £25 a bottle, although they are not showing up on Wine-Searcher and you are advised to contact them direct. Wine-Searcher lists brokers' prices: Crump Richmond and Shaw at £168 per case of 12 ib (2015 vintage) and £76 per case of 6 ib (2013 vintage); Christopher Keiller at £233 per case of 12 (2015 vintage) and £226 per case of 12 (2014 vintage).