Monday, May 26, 2014

The Wines of Beaujolais: Under Appreciated, Reasonably Priced, and Absolutely Delicious 

When I want a red wine that is bright, fruit forward, and relatively low in tannin, I think immediately of Beaujolais, where Gamay is grown on  the rolling hills and sedimentary soils of the South, and on the steep granite slopes of the north.

The southern wines are bright, fruit forward,  low in tannin and  among the most versatile  food wines in the world. They are made by a process called carbonic maceration, which imparts a bright purple color and lots of fruit on the nose and on the palate.  

The wines of the north  are more often made with traditional alcoholic fermentation similar to the wines of Burgundy immediately to its north; and are more serious and structured, with depth, complexity, and  balance. Some, like their southern cousins are ready to drink young, while others  need time to show their  best potential.  

When looking for the fruity, low tannin Beaujolais wines from the south, the challenge is to find a top producer.

 The best ones make their wines the old fashioned way: starting with old vines, restricting yields, avoiding synthetic herbicides or pesticides ,  harvesting late to achieve optimum ripeness, and rigorously sorting the grapes so that only the healthiest bunches are used.
 A favorite of mine  is the 2010 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais.

I tried it the first time because it was a Kermit Lynch selection (and I have  rarely tried a Kermit Lynch selection that I did not like) ; and keep coming back to it for its bright color, refreshing acidity, aromas and flavors of blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, currents, baking spices, and spring flowers, and a very affordable bottle price of about $12.

From the north, I am particularly fond of the wines from  Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent, and especially the

 2011 Marcel Lapierre Morgon. 

 Average 70 year old vines,( some as old as 100 years) on granitic gravel are framed organically, the grapes hand harvested  with  whole cluster fermentation  and  natural yeasts. They are aged over fine lees in older barrels before bottling.  The wine is round and lush, with cherry and licorice on the nose, and  lots of cherry, plum, smoky spice and leather on the palate. 
 Tannins are low and silky. It’s  delicious young, and can age for up to 10 years.  It sells for around $16

 As they age, wines from Morgon become more and more pinot like; but they are so delicious young that I rarely wait to drink them.

Because of the low tannins, these wines can be served with a light chill, and pair with everything from hard cheeses, to fish and  fowl, to stews, or a juicy burger or a hearty steak. Spicy dishes work as well.

These wines are underappreciated, which is a shame, but allows those of us who appreciate Beaujolais to enjoy fabulous wines at extremely attractive prices. 


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