Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beautiful Beaujolais

Beaujolais doesn't get enough credit as a real wine, it should. I'm not talking about the Beaujolais Nouveau. Sure, the 2010 Nouveau will be here soon, it's fun, fruity stuff and it's the first wine we'll see from this year's harvest in Europe. As is our custom we will only carry a few and they will be of good quality, hand-harvested, and made with their natural yeasts. There won't be any of the candied, manipulated, industrial variety.

What I want to talk about are the regular bottlings of Beaujolais; the real wine, light, delicious, and totally functional at the table. Just try to clash the stuff, you can't. It's a wine that you want to drink, not ponder over. What better thing could ever be said about a bottle of wine? Realize that all Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape and that the Beaujolais is actually a region in France, in the southern end of Burgundy and north of the Rhone. Much like those other regions, the villages in which the wine is made are classified and ranked. The basic wines are called "Beaujolais", better wines are "Beaujolais-Villages" (38 villages are allowed to use this designation), and the best wines are called the Beaujolais Crus. There are 10 of them and the Crus are allowed to just use the name of the village on the label. Regnie, Fluerie, Moulin-A-Vent, and Morgon are common ones to see. Some of the Beaujolais-Villages wines that we stock come from excellent growers in areas just outside of the Crus, they are an excellent value.

The facts that we have never had a better selection of good wines to choose from and that the 2009 vintage is considered to be one of the best of the last half-century make this is a great time to drink Beaujolais. There are solid wines in a variety of styles, some forward with fresh, primary fruit, and some more classy, silky, and understated. What they have in common is a lightness and an appealing, undeniable drinkability. Gamay can, in fact, be an excellent alternative to pinot noir. Although the fruit profile and complexity are a little different, the wines tend to be about the same weight and good Beaujolais is considerably less expensive than fine pinot. Ironically older Cru Beaujolais becomes quite like pinot noir as it ages, you can even try one of those. Drink up!


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