Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Beaujolais, Now What? (Written For The Wine Country Newsletter)

As a store that pays little to no attention to most wine press, favoring instead to taste wines, support the wineries that have proven themselves year in and year out, and we would no sooner slap stupid scores on our wines than we would stack crappy wines because we got a good price on them. We taste everything before it comes in and don’t rely on the press, or suppliers for that matter, to make decisions for our shop or the customers that do their wine buying with us. That being said, we do have to take pause and give the press a little credit, (it’s like due and junk) for reminding people about the uber-friendly and utter deliciousness of one of the world’s most easy drinking and food appropriate wines, those from the region of Beaujolais. 

The wine press had a fierce love affair with the 2009 vintage throughout all of France and even gave a tip of their hat to an oft overlooked and almost never written about region that we have been championing for years. We’ve been waxing rhapsodic about how the Gamay based wines from Beaujolais are not only juicy and delicious but so gentle and refreshing that they are some of the most versatile and food appropriate wines on the planet. We were often met with hesitation when we recommend Beaujolais, people remembering the thin and tangy, almost vinegar like Nouveau version, scrunching up their mugs and thinking the wines not worthy or serious enough for their meals. I get that and to be perfectly honest, I think Nouveau Beaujolais is absolute crap, brilliant marketing and all but I can’t stand the wines personally, now village level or Cru Beaujolais, that’s a whole other creature. But still people were a touch hesitant, seeing Beaujolais mentioned in the shiny rags, due to an unusually ripe and full vintage, it either reminded people about those wines or inspired folks to give them a taste. The press about the 09s sent people out into the market looking to get their hands on those wines, and I would be lying if there wasn’t a little, “Um, duh” feeling for those of us that have been fans and preaching about Beaujolais and its place at the table for years, still it was nice to see the racks decimated, the online orders pile up and even better, the people coming back over and over again for more. The press may have sent them there but it was the wines that brought the consumers back.  

So there, I said something nice about the wine press, but I have to wonder, now that the 2009s are pretty much slurped away are people going to go back to dismissing or ignoring Beaujolais? I simply can’t imagine that they could. Even more than that, can’t see a reason why they would. The 2009s were tasty enough; a little riper and fuller, maybe a touch less snap of brightness on the finish. Still wonderful and easy to drink but the 2010s are, to me anyway, even more exciting and definitely more interesting. Still there is all that vibrant and racy fruit but the 2010s also offer more complexity, more minerals and tons of mouthwatering zip on the finish.  We can only hope, for everyone’s wine drinking pleasure, that the wine press might have inspired their interest in revisiting Beaujolais but it will be those crave-inducing wines that ignite a fire and appreciation for gentle slurpable, Gamay….give credit where credit is due. I have faith that the majority, of our customers anyway, won’t be led around by their, um numbers, and will continue to do as they have the past few weeks, walk directly to the Beaujolais rack, grab a few bottles and march right to the register with them.

Tasted through a bunch of 2010 Beaujolais over the past couple months, the wines are glorious and I’m thrilled to have so many grin inducing wines to offer.

2010 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais $13.99
Randy fell so in love with the 2009 version of this wine that he took a leap of faith and made it a Wine of the Month and I give him more credit than the wine press for getting our customers to take another look at Beaujolais. People would toss a couple bottles in their basket while shopping for other wines but once they tasted the Dupeuble they were walking back through our front door and hauling it out by the case loads! I tasted the 2010 and noticed just a hint more spice mixed in with the juicy fruit and shade more lift on the back. I brought the wine in without much fanfare, just stuck it on the shelf, two days later it was gone! This value wine is still just that, a wicked value.

2010 Dominique Piron Brouilly $16.99
The wines from this estate have been on our shelves far longer than I have been the French wine buyer. Each vintage simply lovely and all that we want in Beaujolais. This Brouilly has a beautiful dark color, lip-smacking dark red fruit, a refreshing blast of minerals mid-palate and the finish is ultra-clean. Think pork, grilled chicken and smoky flavored dishes.

2010 Domaine Diochon Moulin-a-Vent $21.99
This is my go-to Beaujolais when people want just a little more grip or tannin in their Beaujolais. Still lively as hell, brimming with nervy fruit but there is a bit of tannic bite on the end which makes it perfect for foods with a little extra fattiness that need something to help balance it. 

2010 Chateau Thivan Cote de Brouilly $22.99
It was while at this estate that I finally truly understood just how food friendly the Gamay from Beaujolais can be. The lady of the house, Evelyne Geoffray, a brilliant cook, had prepared quite a feast for our visit. Everything from buttery puffed pastry studded with leaks and herbs to house made pates and there was not one thing on the table that was not enhanced by the estates utterly drinkable wines. Cooked red fruit leaps from the glass followed by a perfect amount of minerals that almost reminds me of fresh cracked pepper. The flavors mirror the aromas and the finish is super clean.

2010 Domaine Chignard Fleurie Les Moriers $22.99
I love this wine for its mix of tart red fruit and flowering rose petals! Achingly pretty aromas, mouth-filling and vibrant fruit, no perceptible oak, just pure, delicious, floral and fruit Gamay with a linger that is gentle and refreshing. Can’t think of much, other than dessert that this wine wouldn’t be absolutely wonderful with.


The Duchess of Paso Robles said...

I love the Beaujolais. I even love the Beaujolais Nouveaux. I was lucky growing up in that my family drank wines, most often beer, but they did drink wines.

I was really lucky in that my best friend was a French girl whose mother would have bottles shipped to her from France and we'd have food and wine with dinner. I felt so grown up and all Breakfast at Tiffany's sophisticated. BUT, I never knew the wine types or names.

Fast forward to now and I know I drank burgundies and beaujolais with this family. Now when I drink them with lovely food, it takes me back to that girl who thought she was GiGi or Bridgette Bardot.

webb said...

If I promise to try a 2010 "real" Beaujolais, will you still let me drink the case - yes, i did say "case" - of Nouveau that I bought last week? We thought the 2011 was one of the best we had ever had.

I feel so trashy! can you forgive me?

Samantha Dugan said...

What a fantatic memory to own. You were a lucky girl and thanks for sharing that.

Wait a second there sister. I didn't say, or mean to imply that there is anything wrong with liking Nouveau, I just don't happen to love the stuff. If you dig it, which clearly you do, you bought a case, then I think that is awesome! Honestly. Just not my thing and I happen to much prefer the village level and cru stuff. Never have to ask forgiveness from me for loving what you love...thrills me to hear about anyone, (especially those that I adore) being crazy about any wine. All good in my book girlie. Do try a 2010 cru and do let me know what you think.

webb said...

I feel like I have been to confession and gotten absolution. thanks.

ps: the nouveau was as good tonight as we remembered. Sadly only 11 left.

Samantha Dugan said...

One of the beautifully tragic parts of wine, the fact that there is only so much. Kind of like falling in love with someone and knowing they are leaving the country in six month or something. Savor it while you have it girlie. Just curious, which producer is it?