When I read about the death of Georges Duboeuf earlier this month, I realized that it had been a long time since I had tasted one of the Beaujolais wines that this iconic producer made famous.
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I didn’t realize quite how long, though, until I searched through my old tasting notes and discovered that I hadn’t reported on Duboeuf’s familiar Beaujolais-Villages – the one with the familiar flower label – since the June 11, 2007 Wine Advisor.
I’m sure this lapse didn’t hurt Duboeuf much. After all, their winery in Romanèche-Thorins in Beaujolais pumps out a remarkable 36 million bottles of wine per year. Even if you subtract the equally startling 7 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau shipped to the world on the third Thursday of November, that’s still an amazing amount of wine.
Besides that, his familiar flower label – reflecting the blue, white, and red Tricolor flag of France with artfully drawn images of a blue bachelor button, a white ox-eye daisy, and a red corn poppy – make for an attractive display that helps it fly off the shelf.
To be frank, most wine geeks and nerds hadn’t given Duboeuf’s wines a lot of respect. In years past, many wine enthusiasts – myself included – were put off by the winery’s use of 71B yeast, an industrial strain that imparts a marked banana or artificial strawberry aroma in the wine. Yuk!
To be fair, that issue had disappeared by the early 2000s, and when I reviewed the 2005 vintage, along with a report on “I’ll Drink to That,” Rudolph Cherminski’s biography of Georges Duboeuf in 2007, I was delighted to discover that yes, we had no bananas.
Both the familiar Beaujolais-Villages and a more upscale Chiroubles, I wrote, were “much more well-constructed and frankly appealing than I remembered. They’re fruit-forward certainly, with the balance more tilted toward fruit … But the old yeast-based ‘banana’ scent is gone, and the wines – particularly the Chiroubles – are nicely balanced, crisp and refreshing, and offer good value at their price points.”
So why didn’t I start grabbing the flower bottle more often? Beats the heck out of me, given that it’s remained a fine value, inflating only a bit to $12 for the 2017 this week from $10 for the 2005 some thirteen years ago.
And guess what? It’s even better. You’ll find my full tasting note below, but to give you a hint, I found it full of juicy blackberry and raspberry aromas, but it’s no fruit bomb; it’s well structured with fresh-fruit acidity, a whiff of stony minerality, and a surprising levels of firm but palatable tannins. A good wine, versatile with food.
Why not try one soon? And with it maybe reread Cherminski’s “I’ll Drink to That” on your Kindle alongside.
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Today’s Tasting Report
Georges Duboeuf 2017 Beaujolais-Villages ($12)
Clear, dark purple almost all the way to a clear garnet edge. Blackberry and raspberry with focus on the black fruit on the nose, but red fruit, raspberries and blackberries, becomes a little more prominent on the palate. Abundant, juicy fruit is well structured with fresh acidity, a whiff of stony minerality, and a surprising level of firm but palatable tannins. It’s a medium-bodied wine that shows its fruit thanks to vinification in stainless steel tanks without exposure to oak. A good, balanced Beaujolais and a versatile food wine at 13% alcohol. U.S. importer: Quintessential LLC, Napa, Calif. (Jan. 23, 2020)
FOOD MATCH: “Great as an aperitif, this Beaujolais-Villages works with appetizers and charcuterie, such as prosciutto and other salty meats, pulled pork sliders, soft cheeses and light pasta dishes,” the importer says. We sipped it as an aperitif with mild cheese, which worked well to balance its tannic structure.
WHEN TO DRINK: The producer suggests drinking it within one or two years; that said, this 2017 model is drinking well, and I have no reason to fear that it will fail in the next year or two. Still, drink soon.
My local price matches Wine-Searcher.com’s $12 average U.S. retail for the 2017 vintage; it’s a fine value at this price.
Here’s an importer’s fact sheet (PDF format) on the 2017 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages.
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Check prices and find vendors for Georges Duboeuf 2017 Beaujolais-Villages on Wine-Searcher.com.
Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for many of the wines of Georges Duboeuf.
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