Beaujolais' Best Buys

Richard FadeleyJust north of Lyon in southeast central France is "home-base" for the Gamay grape. Technically part of Burgundy, they account for about 50 percent of that famous region's production, mainly know for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You are familiar with Beaujolais Nouveau, and that it is released on the third Thursday in November each year, a fruity quaffable wine with few detractions, but have you given the Beaujolais-Villages and the even better Cru Beaujolais a chance to show the serious side of this colorful hilly region? Nouveau is bottled three to four weeks after the harvest and "speaks" for the current vintage. "We made wine, and it is good!"

But when subjected to lower yields and from better-situated granite slopes, Gamay can produce very interesting food-friendly wines that can age for 2-5 years, or more.

Beaujolais-Villages comes from 39 villages well positioned in the northern part, just below the 10 "Cru Beaujolais" from the best vineyards in the area. Here we find wines that pair well with a variety of food, perfect with picnics, and can stand-in for its "city-cousin," Pinot Noir. That means pairing with salmon, chicken, portobello mushrooms, burgers, etc. They produce a small amount of white and rosé and we were able to find one of each, from a co-op in Quincie-en-Beaujolais, both nice wines, with the white (from Chardonnay) winning a Gold Medal in the Paris wine competition. We had the white with hummus and cheese, and the rosé with a delicious spinach salad. As for the reds, we tasted them over several nights with a wide variety of fares. They were nice with baked doves, perfect with chicken, delicious with a vegetarian pizza, and if you find me at a football game, you will always find a Beaujolais (and most likely a rosé and a white wine). Seems to cover most anything you will find at a "tail-gate". These reds like a little chill so throw one in the cooler and by the time you get there it will be just right. Keep it cool; on hot days they warm-up fast. Our tailgate had a little bit of everything; fried chicken, pimento cheese sandwiches, deviled eggs, Mexican bean dip, and the Beaujolais was right at home!

As an everyday red these sturdy wines can stand in for Pinot Noir at a fraction of the price, and a Cru Beaujolais is my first choice with escargot! Great with burgers or pizza too! These are no-non-sense wines with no fuss, no decant, or extended aging requirements. All with moderate alcohol and at a price that puts a smile on your face. Look for the crus, the ten villages that are allowed to put only their name on the label, such as Brouilly, Morgon, Moulin-A-Vent, Cotes de Brouilly, Fleurie or Chroubles. When in doubt ask the wine consultant, he/she will know.

Perhaps a Saint Amour for Valentines, or a Julienas with Thanksgiving dinner. Where else can you explore the top wines of a region for under $20. Beaujolais-Villages makes a nice party wine that pairs nicely with ham, burgers, pizza and chicken, and Jadot has a winner with his '09 B-V. The '09 vintage is highly regarded all over France so take advantage of the lower Euro to enjoy some of France's finest wines. As you can see by our results, Beaujolais can age and improve with a year or two in the bottle. Buy a several of one label and watch how it develops.

So enjoy a bottle of the Nouveau, then get familiar with the more serious side of Beaujolais and expand your wine horizons. We've provided a few good examples of these wines, and if you find smaller producers, they are worth a try, and if you see a white Beaujolais, give it a chance, you won't be disappointed.

Beaujolais' Best Buys Review

Beaujolais-Blanc
Signé Vigneron '09 Beaujolais-Blanc **** A Gold Medal, Best Buy! France $10
Beaujolais-Rosé
Signé Vigneron '09 Beaujolais Rosé *** Easy Drinking Pink! France $10
Beaujolais-Villages & Crus
Potel-Aviron '08 Moulin--Vent **** Best Cru! France $18
Duboeuf '09 Jean Descombes Morgon **** Delicious & Will Age! France $12
Duboeuf '08 Moulin--Vent (FL) **** Another Winner! France $12
Jadot '09 Beaujolais-Villages **** A Best Buy!! France $10
Laboure-Roi '07 Morgon **** Elegant & Stylish! France $17
Henry Fessy '07 Brouilly **** Another Star! France $16
Duboeuf '09 Brouilly (Flower Label) **** Will Age! France $13

 

Our four-star rating system and how it might compare to the WS 100-point scale:
* Decent (80-83)
** Good (86-87)
*** Very Good (87-89
**** Excellent (90+)

All ratings are only the opinions of our tasters and not meant to offend your personal favorites.

November 2010

To contact Richard Fadeley, write him at webwineman@hotmail.com

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