Beaujolais… For many wine lovers, Beaujolais connotes simple, easy-drinking red wines, served slightly chilled and never taken too seriously. Especially not the Nouveau wines that arrive every November on the third Thursday, just before Thanksgiving, ravenously guzzled and soon to be forgotten. Hmm… I drink Beaujolais when I need a break. When my palate is tuckered out from being blasted by uber-tannic monsters, or over stimulated by the “wine of a thousand flavors,” I turn to Beaujolais. That is not a slight, but most of the time Beaujolais is just plain old wine. Then comes a vintage like 2009 and Beaujolais is anything but plain old wine.
Anyone who has read my blog or merely stood within earshot of me should know by now that the 2009 vintage in Europe is a fantastic vintage. Everything I put to my lips screams “buy me!” I had been reading a lot about 2009 and Beaujolais and figured I ought to taste a few. So far the one’s I’ve fallen upon have been tremendous wines.
To the uninitiated, Beaujolais is a very simple appellation to understand. Basically you have Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages and ten Cru Beaujolais AOC’s. The ten Cru Beaujolais regions (from south to north) are: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Saint-Amour, and Juliénas. That’s it – no multitude of vineyards to memorize, no complex set of classifications to pour over, nothing… The other easy piece of the equation is that 99% of all wine produced in Beaujolais is red and that all red wine is produced from the Gamay grape. The miniscule percentage of white is usually always Chardonnay (although Aligoté is allowed).
The four wines below are a start… I plan on continuing to seek out 2009 Beaujolais – they’re fun, easy to drink, relatively easy on the budget and in 2009 severely undervalued.
2009 Georges Duboeuf Jean Ernest Descombes, Morgon AOC ($16.99/bottle)
Ripe, fresh cherry nose with gamey and floral hints – lovely. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Fresh, lively palate – lush fruit, jammy. Moderate length – smooth and quaffable. Drinking well now and should hold for another 2 to 3 years. Great value!
2009 Domaine Cheveau, Saint-Amour AOC ($21.99/bottle)
Minerally nose with fresh cherry, rosemary and violet hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Sour cherry palate with black currant and banana chip notes. Moderate length – smooth – infinitely gulpable. Drinking well now and should hold for another 2 to 3 years.
2009 Pascal Granger Juliénas AOC ($19.99/bottle)
Ripe cherry nose with violet and mineral hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Dark fruit core with black cherry, tar and rose attar notes – almost brooding. Moderate length – smooth with a bit of layered complexity. Drinking well now and should improve with another 3 to 5 years in bottle.
2009 Pascal Granger Chénas AOC ($17.99/bottle)
Bright cherry nose with wet stone, violets and allspice hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Tart palate with cherry, tea leaf and vanilla bean notes. Moderate length – smooth, but a bit tight – structured. Drinking well now and should improve with another 2 to 3 years in bottle. Good value.