I was once on the Beaujolais Nouveau bandwagon. I would anticipate that day in late November when the current vintage would be released and flood the market with total plonk. This was supposed to be a celebratory occasion. But I fell off that bandwagon. My undoing was a wine from the Julienas region of Beaujolais offered by Georges Duboeuf, the approach-avoidance King of Beaujolais. The wine was a revelation – Beaujolais did not have to be thin, acidic stuff but rather could be a wine of some finesse and structure. As for “approach-avoid” Georges, no one has done more to promote Crus Beaujolais while at the same time maligning an entire region with the release of the dubious Noveaux. We at WDWU had never done a tasting devoted to Beaujolais; our autumn roundtable would provide an opportunity for us to delve into these wines which bridge the seasons so well. These wines are very distinctively French – there is nothing “New World” about them. We serendipitously chose wines representing the three quality levels of Beaujolais – Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages and Cru Beaujolais. In each category, Eleni, Katrin, and I found wines to recommend and enjoy. As a long-time fan of these wines, I encourage you to expand your wine horizons and explore this region of France. – Glenn
2008 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils
At first we were not noticeably impressed with the pale garnet wine. But as we explored the first three wines in the lineup it improved and ultimately became the most interesting wine of the trio due to its complex nose: licorice, strawberry, pepper spice and even some tobacco leaf. In the mouth, spice, solidly medium plus acidity, and some light tannins.
On sale at the NH State Liquor Store for $12.99 (regularly $14.99).
2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages
The Jadot showed itself as a typical Jadot—a solid wine—well blended with their own wine, Regnié Cru, and young wines from local growers. With the deepest purple of first three Beaujolais-Village, the Louis Jadot’s nose is loaded with fresh crushed strawberry and cranberry, and a hint of spice. The medium plus acidity overshadows any tannins. It is fresh and young and the best value among the Beaujolais-Villages.
At Austin Liquors on sale for $7.59 (reg. $10.99).
2007 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages
Joseph Drouhin and Drouhin wines are well known, both in France and Oregon for their natural approach. Brownish red with notes of cherry and other red fruit; medium acidity and a long, acidic finish. While there wasn’t any dust on the bottle to indicate it might have lingered in the store too long, the three-person hunt to actually locate the bottle in the store might have been yet another indicator that it remained too long in the bottle; furthered underscored by Veronique Boss-Drouhin’s recommendation to cellar it 1 to 3 years.
On sale at the NH State Liquor Store for $11.99 (regularly $13.99).
2009 Chateau de Bagnols Brouilly
Brouilly is the largest of the Beaujolais Crus and at times the wines can be somewhat lackluster. This bottle comes from an “alliance” of small growers and was enjoyed by all.
In the glass, the wine was violet-tinged garnet; aromas of chocolate, raspberry and coffee that carry over to the palate; silky with medium plus acidity and medium tannins; a lasting grippy finish. The wine , though well-knit, is still young and could benefit from some ageing.
At Kappy’s, Wellington Circle, Medford $14.99
2009 Domaine de la Passion Moulin-á-Vent
The wines from Moulin-a-Vent are the most formidable of the Crus with the ability to age for up to ten years. Again, this comes from the same alliance, Signe Vigneron, as the Brouilly.
Similar in hue to the Chateau de Bagnols; sour cherry in the nose though somewhat restrained; riper fruit – a hint of smoke – on the palate; smooth with medium acidity and medium plus tannins. Again, an age-worthy bottle.
At Kappy’s, Wellington Circle, Medford $15.99
2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon
Morgon consists of just over 1,000 hectares on Villié-Morgon and has soils made up of decomposed rocks and schist. The appellation produces earthy wines that can take on a Burgundian character of silky texture after some bottle aging.The Lapierre family has been in Morgon for three generations. In 1981, under the direction of Jules Chauvet, a researcher at the University of California, Marcel began practicing organic and biodynamic viticulture and stopped adding yeasts and sulfur dioxide during the winemaking process. In recent years, the winery has been working toward organic and biodynamic certification.
Of all the wines that we tasted, this one had the most “New World” character. It is riper and jammier than the others, with a bit of forest floor and cornichon. The palate is spicy wtih lots of cherry notes. Smooth, silky, and rich, with well-balanced acidity and tannins, the Marcel Lapierre was a pleasure.
At Martignetti’s for $22.
2008 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py
Within the appellation of Morgon, there is a vineyard called Côte du Py, which is is a large, sloping hill. Some consider this vineyard to be a true expression of Morgon. This wine is made grapes harvested from 50 year old vines and it has been minimally treated.
The nose and the palate has wonderfully intense black cherry, plum, and minerality. There is some spiciness here, too, mostly white pepper. The palate is lean and restrained. On the second day, there was abundant apricot on the palate. The most tannic and acidic of the tasting, it has great structure, fruit, complexity, and a super long finish.
At KJ Baaron’s for $15.99.