Posts Tagged ‘beaujolais’

Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé! 2019 Edition

November 20, 2019 Leave a comment

Traditions, Traditions, Traditions.

I’m not sure how much I care about Beaujolais Nouveau at this point, but – I need to keep the traditions. I’m not talking about the tradition of the Beaujolais Nouveau, an annual celebration of a new vintage in Beaujolais – this tradition has a life of its own and surely doesn’t care if I will uphold it or not. I’m now talking about the tradition of this very blog, where I didn’t skip writing about a single Beaujolais Nouveau release since this blog started (proof is here), hence this post is unavoidable. I’m all about traditions, and 2019 will not be an exception.

Every third Thursday in November is celebrated as a Beaujolais Nouveau Day. What was the local French phenomenon for a very long time, celebrating the end of the harvest with a young and simple wine, became an international movement, largely due to the efforts of Georges Duboeuf, French negociant. In France alone there are more than 120 celebrations related to the Beaujolais Nouveau. The most famous festival, called Les Sarmentelles, is held in the town of Beaujeu, the capital of the Beaujolais region. The festival starts one day before the third Thursday and lasts for 5 days.

Beaujolais Nouveau wine has its share of controversy. Many professionals and consumers alike dismiss the Beaujolais Nouveau wine as a gimmick, simply a marketing plot to sell something which is not supposed to be sold. I wouldn’t say that I’m buying the Beaujolais Nouveau wines by the case, but they are as mysterious as any other unopened bottle, and having a tradition in place helps undecisive wine geek at least to know what he will be drinking around third Thursday every November.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2019

How were the 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau wines? Let me offer you my tasting notes:

2019 Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau Vieilles Vignes (13.5% ABV, $12.99)
Dark ruby color
A hint of fresh raspberries, sage, lavender, more reminiscent of a regular Beaujolais
You can clearly perceive a young wine on the palate, but it doesn’t have characteristic Nouveau grapiness – zesty raspberries, crushed rock, nice herbal component, clean acidity, medium-plus finish
8-, an excellent effort – at this point, this is simply a young wine, not “just another Nouveau”. I bet this wine will age well past recommended 5 months. It would be interesting to taste it again in 3-4 years. And if this is any indication of the quality of the 2019 vintage, this is the one to look forward to.

2019 Georges Buboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $9.99)
Garnet color
Upon opening, the nose had the characteristic Nouveau freshly crushed berry medley, but after an hour or so, it morphed into a raspberry jam, a well-made raspberry jam
Ripe raspberries, good minerality, sage, a hint of eucalyptus, good acidity, good finish
8- after an hour of breathing in the open bottle, another perfectly drinkable wine which has little in common with Beaujolais Nouveau as it used to be

Color me impressed. I say every year that I’m impressed with the quality, and that the quality of Beaujolais Nouveau keeps improving. Yet I have to say again that this was the best Beaujolais Nouveau I ever tasted. Is that the 2019 vintage? Is that just global warming? Is that winemaker’s capability to arrive at better and better grapes before the crush? I don’t know – and if you do, please share your opinion. But first and foremost – try the Beaujolais Nouveau 2019 and say if you are impressed as I am.  Cheers!

Rediscovering Beaujolais

May 5, 2019 4 comments
Beaujolais map

Source: Discover Beaujolais website

I remember learning about wine many moons ago at Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine School, where Beaujolais was one of the first French wine regions we discovered. We learned that there are general Beaujolais wines, which are not worth seeking, Beaujolais Villages, which are a bit better than the regular Beaujolais, and ten Cru wines (Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié, and Saint-Amour) – and the Cru wines  are something worth looking for.

There might be a few reasons why Cru Beaujolais wines are worth looking for – we should remember that Beaujolais is part of Burgundy, and thus it shares similar soils and climatic conditions as the rest of the Burgundy. Beaujolais wines are made out of Gamay Noir, not Pinot Noir, which is a king of Burgundy, but still – well-made Cru Beaujolais wines can offer a poor man’s alternative to its rarely affordable cousins.

But then there is this thing… Beaujolais Nouveau. The wine which became a glorious marketing success – and Achilles hill of Beaujolais wines. Beaujolais Nouveau became an international celebration of the new vintage, where the wine produced from the grapes just harvested a few months ago, hits the shelves of the wine stores worldwide on the third Thursday in November. While the success of Beaujolais Nouveau is unquestionable, its marketing message has a simple consequence – say “Beaujolais”, and most of the wine consumers immediately add the word “Nouveau” – overshadowing all the great Cru Beaujolais wines.

Yours truly is guilty as charged – in almost 10 years of blogging, I wrote about Beaujolais Nouveau literally every year – and I have only two posts covering Cru Beaujolais, after attending the tasting of the Duboeuf Cru Beaujolais portfolio back in 2012 (here are links to the Part 1 and Part 2 posts, if you are interested). I have to also say that the avoidance of Beaujolais wines was not conscious – there are few regions and types of wines which I intentionally avoid, such as generic Cotes du Rhone or similarly generic Argentinian Malbec – but the Beaujolais avoidance was rather subconscious.

Chateau Bellevue

Château de Bellevue. Source: CognacOne/Chateau de Bellevue

When I got the email from CognacOne, an importer with an excellent collection of French wines, introducing the new Cru Beaujolais wines from Château de Bellevue, something piqued my interest, and I got the sample of two Cru Beaujolais wines from Morgon and Fleurie.

Château de Bellevue was built at the beginning of the 19th century in the village of Villié-Morgon, with the addition of the cellar behind it in 1830. Today, Château de Bellevue is both the winery and Bed and Breakfast Inn. Château de Bellevue vineyards span 37 acres across a number of the Cru Beaujolais appellations (Moulin à Vent, Morgon, Fleurie, and Brouilly) – needless to say, Gamay Noir is the only grape which can be found there. While it is all Gamay grapes, the terroir rules, and wines from the different appellations are perfectly distinguishable.

Chateau Bellevue Beaujolais wines

Here are the notes for the two wines I had an opportunity to try:

2015 Château de Bellevue Fleurie AOP (13% ABV, $25, aged 9 months in steel tanks)
Dark garnet
Crushed rock, iodine, underbrush, cherries
Medium plus body, crunchy berries, minerality, good tannins, good acidity, good balance
8, easy to drink, dangerous.

2015 Château de Bellevue Climat Les Charmes Morgon AOP (12.5% ABV, $25, aged 9-10 months (partially) in large French oak barrels)
Dark garnet
Raspberries, minerality, hot rocks
Nicely tart, well present tannins, tart cherries, excellent balance
8, a bit more earthy and bigger bodied, delicious.
Second day: 8+, the wine opened up magnificently, adding beautiful layers of fruit and spices.

Here you go, my friends. I know – too many wines, too little time – but I definitely intend on adding more Beaujolais wines to my cellar. How do Cru Beaujolais fare in your wine world? Cheers!


Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé! 2018 Edition

November 25, 2018 5 comments

Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2018I find myself lately talking a lot about traditions. These are not cultural or societal traditions, of course not. Much simpler. These are only the traditions of this very blog. One needs time to claim something a “tradition”. This blog had been around continuously for more than 9 years, so I hope I get the right to call some of the permanent, repeated year after year, themes a “tradition”. A tradition such as the yearly Beaujolais Nouveau post.

I’m sure hope the majority of the wine drinkers are familiar with the Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon. Every year we celebrate the new vintage by drinking the young, simple wine just made a few months after the harvest. As the tradition of celebrating the new – Nouveau in French – vintage originated in the Beaujolais region in France, we call this celebration the Beaujolais Nouveau. And to set the expectations right, the Beaujolais Nouveau is always celebrated on the third Thursday in November – this is when the Beaujolais Nouveau wines officially hit the shelves of the wine stores around the world.

Every “new” Beaujolais Nouveau celebration brings something new and unique with it. I remember huge celebrations held a few years in the row. Then there was a period when the “Nouveau” movement was joined by the number of US producers. Last few years, however, were rather uneventful – it is, of course, possible that I missed something.

This year 2018 brought in quite a few things which might not be designated as “new”, necessarily, but for sure they were different. First, I almost missed the whole Beaujolais Nouveau celebration, as it came up quite unexpectedly – the earliest possible celebration overall. Beaujolais Nouveau can only be released on the 3rd Thursday of November, which fell this year on November 15th – can’t happen any earlier than that. Okay, I know this is insignificant. Next interesting fact was … the snow. Yep, we got 5 inches in Connecticut right in the middle of November – this is something which generally doesn’t happen. But I was able to take the pictures of the bottles in the snow.

The last “new” was truly a Nouveau event – Georges Duboeuf released Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé. Rosé was never a part of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration – until now, that is. Not only it was a beautiful looking wine, but it was also a tasty one too!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2018

I know that bashing of the Beaujolais Nouveau as only a marketing stunt is quite popular among wine professionals and consumers alike – and I honestly don’t support it. Even this year, I saw someone asking in one of the wine forums on Facebook “does anyone drinks Beaujolais Nouveau wines”. I didn’t want to get into that conversation, but I can, of course, answer here – I do! The Rosé I would actually gladly drink at any time at all. And I would never refuse the second glass of either one of the reds, so there, you have my answer.

Here are a bit more detailed notes:

2018 Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau Vieilles Vignes (13% ABV, $12.99)
Dark ruby color
Fresh raspberries with the characteristic Beaujolais Nouveau acidity, mineral notes
Fresh tart raspberries, good structure, good balance, overall quite pleasant. 7+/8-

2018 Georges Buboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé (12.5% ABV, $9.99)
Beautiful light pink color, very inviting.
Beautiful fresh strawberries on the nose. Strawberries and cranberries on the palate, clean acidity, excellent balance. There is nothing “Nouveau” about this wine – it is just an excellent Rosé. 8

2018 Georges Buboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (12.5% ABV, $9.99)
Garnet color
Raspberries and violets on the nose
Raspberries and strawberries on the palate, interesting minerality, some baking spices, good concentration, medium plus body, well integrated mouth-plucking acidity. A very solid wine. 8-/8, one of the very best Beaujolais Nouveau.

What do you think of Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon? Did you taste the 2018 wines? If you did, what do you think of them? Cheers!

Crus of Beaujolais, Year 2011

July 10, 2012 3 comments

(this self-rant doesn’t belong to this blog post, but I have to let it out of the system. I don’t understand how this works – this post was supposed to be out more than a month ago – the event was great, and the content was very clear in my head – nevertheless, it took soooo long to actually write it. Sometimes, the road from the head to the paper medium is all so twisty, not straight at all. The things are not what they appear… But I think we can proceed now.)

When you hear the word “Beaujolais”, what is the first thing which comes to mind? Beaujolais Noveau? Yes, me too. At the same time, Beaujolais is a large wine producing region, in area much bigger than Burgundy which it is technically considered to be a part of. And of course there is a lot more wine produced in the Beaujolais region than just a Beaujolais Noveau, a celebratory wine of a new vintage.

At the beginning of June, I was lucky enough to be invited for the tasting of the 2011 portfolio of wines of Georges Deboeuf. Georges Deboeuf is one of the largest and well-known wine merchants in France. He is credited with literally single-handily creating the Beaujolais Noveau phenomenon and often is called the “King of Beaujolais”. I also think that his success with Beaujolais Noveau, both wine and celebration of the new vintage with pleasant but very simple grapey wine, appearing in the stores all over the world always on the third Thursday in November, is also an enemy of serious Beaujolais wines, which can be absolutely fantastic – but this can be a subject for a whole different post, so let’s talk about the portfolio tasting of 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais wines.

No, wait. Before we talk about the wines presented in the tasting, let’s take a quick look at Beaujolais wine region. Beaujolais region is located to the south of Burgundy. Red wines constitute absolute majority of wine production in Beaujolais, and Gamay is pretty much the only grape used in the production of that red wine (with small plantings of Pinot Noir been phased out little by little). White wines are produced from Chardonnay with Aligote been also allowed, but overall production of white wines is miniscule. Three levels of wines are produced in Beaujolais – Beaujolais, which allows usage of the grapes from the whole appellation – these wine should generally be avoided; Beaujolais-Villages, which are better quality wines, and so called Cru wines (top level). There are 10 Crus in Beaujolais – Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour. In general, Beaujolais wines are considered simple and easy (and thus work well with wide variety of food), and also have lesser aging potential than, for instance, the wines of neighboring Burgundy (however aging is usually defined by the talent of winemaker more than anything else). Now that you know all the theory of the Beaujolais wines, let’s talk about tasting.

The tasting was organized by CRT/Tanaka and I would like to thank Caroline Helper (@ForgetBurgundy) for invitation. The tasting took place at DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan, and it was split into two parts – self-guided tasting of 12 different newly released wines from Georges Duboeuf portfolio (some wines on the list were denoted as barrel samples, as they were just bottled a week before the event), following by organized lunch. Little bites of food were served during the self-guided tasting, and I had an opportunity to try a famous Daniel Burger (with foie gras inside!) – and it was absolutely delicious.

Here I will share with you my notes from the self-guided tasting – description of the lunch, where both Georges and Frank Duboeuf presented their wines, will make up a separate post (ahh, I hope it will not take me another month to write it!). Of course I can’t leave you with just notes, so you will also see some pictures.

2010 Georges Duboeuf Macon-Villages, Maconnaise, France (100% Chardonnay, SRP: $12.99, 13% ABV) – Crisp acidity, interestingly nutty nose, hint of green apple, very mineral on the palate, with hint of limestone (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Pouilly-Fuisse, Maconnais, France (100% Chardonnay, SRP: $19.99, 13% ABV) – green notes on the nose, lime zest, light, effervescent and crisp on the palate, with a hint of tropical fruit, very refreshing (Drinkability: 8- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $9.99, 12.5% ABV) – Fresh fruit nose, very tannic, more fruit and tannins on the palate, with tannins literally reaching Barolo levels. Needs time and may be different temperature (Drinkability: 6 at the moment, but this wine needs to be reassessed)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $13.99, 13% ABV) – plums, acidity out of balance, tamed red fruit on the nose, tannins on the second taste (Drinkability: 6+)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Brouilly, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $14.99, 13% ABV) – tart cherries on the nose and palate, more balance than the previous wine, but still lacking a bit (Drinkability: 7- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Brouilly Chateau de Nervers, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 12.5% ABV) – closed, not balanced, all over the place – fruit, acidity, tannins are not harmonious (Drinkability: 6+)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Morgon, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $14.99, 13% ABV) – very nice nose with open fruit, too dry on the palate, very tannic, needs more fruit (Drinkability: 7- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 13% ABV) – good fruit, ghood acidity, reasonably balanced (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $18.99, 13% ABV) – very nice! Round fruit on the nose and the palate, very good balance (Drinkability: 8- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf  Julienas, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $14.99, 13% ABV) – pleasant nose, good acidity, but fruit is closed (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 13% ABV)- fresh fruit on the nose, lacks substance on the palate, needs more power – this wine is red like white (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Domaine des Rosiers, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $17.99, 13% ABV) – very nice, beautiful color, good fruit on the nose, hint of minerality and spices, good red fruit, plums and raspberries on the palate. Best of tasting. (Drinkability: 8- )

In the end of the day, all the wines were showing very well, and if you think about QPR, all the wines were great values. Make no mistake – some of these wines are in a very limited production (especially all the Domaine-denoted wines), so you will need to make an effort to find them. But – it worth the reward!

That’s all for my first part of the report, folks. Until the next time – cheers!

Tasting Beaujolais Noveau 2011 and a Little Bit of Scotch

November 20, 2011 3 comments

BeaujolaisNoveau2011Appearance of Beaujolais Nouveau bottles in the wine stores squarely underscores an important notion which is up in the air anyway: the holidays are here, and the year is going to wind up very quickly from here on. But the last six weeks of the year are not going away without a bang – there will be lots of great food and great wine everywhere.

So what do you think about Beaujolais Nouveau 2011? Here are my impressions. To begin with, I like the label of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 – it is very bright and attractive, purely an urban statement with graffiti lettering. As as the wine itself is concerned, it was okay, more in style with the years prior to 2010. Let me put it this way – the Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 was real wine of a good depth, a thought provoking wine (here is the link to the post about 2010 wines) – 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau was just that – a Beaujolais Nouveau wine which can be gulped quickly without much reflection. Bright fresh fruit, very grapey – but in need of an overall balance.

I liked the taste of Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 more, as it was combining brightness of the fresh fruit with an overall structure – this wine had legs to stand on, had a nice balance with good acidity and some earthy notes – this will be one of the wines I want to see on our Thanksgiving table (we will talk about Thanksgiving wines  in the next post). In any case, drink your Beaujolais Nouveau quickly – these wines are not meant to be kept for the long time.

If you are puzzled by the title of this blog, let me explain. No, Scotch has nothing to do with Beaujolais Nouveau – I just happened to stop by Cost Less Wines last Wednesday and try more Scotches from Douglas Laing. Here are some which I would like to note: Linkwood 13 from Speyside was very light, with a hint of smoke and most interestingly, with grape finish. It is very interesting, as it was not finished in any of the wine barrels – it was actually finished in used bourbon casks.

Next, outside of getting into “smoky” category, the Scotch I liked the best was Clynelish 15 from Highlands – it was both very complex and smooth. Complexity is something which I really enjoy in the Scotch (this is why Macallan is never my favorite – I don’t find enough complexity in the taste). Finally my most favorite Scotch from this tasting was Caol Ila 14 from Islay – pronounced smokiness and power, a great scotch if you are into smoky flavors at all. Overall, it was great #WhiskyWednesday, as they say it on Twitter.

The next time I want to talk about Thanksgiving wines – but please tell me, what wines will be on your table on Thursday?

Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 – Live Blog

November 19, 2010 5 comments

What’s up with the “live blog”? No, I don’t plan to show the live recording in the Gary V. style (for those unfamiliar with Gary V. – please go to the Wine Library TV site, I promise you will enjoy it). For all of my posts so far, I don’t write them at the same time as I taste the wine or visiting the restaurant. Yes, I might take some notes, but all of the writing is still done later on, mostly based on the memory (yes, I make an effort to memorize the experience).

However, today is a special day for many wine lovers across the globe. In the 1970s, the tradition started in France, in the appellation called Beaujolais, to celebrate the first wine produced from the harvest of the same year. What was the French national event in the 1970s, now became a worldwide celebration, which always takes place on the third Thursday in November, and today is the day.

Beaujolais red wines are made from the grape called Gamay, and the wines are produced in the style of the neighboring Burgundy (which are made from Pinot Noir), but typically are lighter and don’t age that well.

When it comes to the Beaujolais Nouveau, this wine is made in 6 weeks after the harvest, so it is really light and fruity wine which is not supposed to age (should be consumed by May of the following year). Also, similar to the Pinot Noir wines, Beaujolais wines should be served slightly chilled (about 55F).

Therefore, considering such a special day, I’m writing this blog as I actually try the wines, starting with the opening of the bottles – and this is why I called this blog “live”. I can also tell you that last year, even before I tried the wines from 2009, I read somewhere that they supposed to be very good wines, so I was already influenced as I was trying the wines (read my previous post if you are curious why is that). This year, I have no expectations whatsoever, except the knowledge that these are young wines and they will taste accordingly to the very young age.

I decided to try Beaujolais Nouveau from two very famous French producers – Georges Duboeuf and Joseph Drouhin. The first producer, Joseph Drouhin used regular cork, and Duboeuf used synthetic one, both corks specifically imprinted for 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau. From the moment the bottles opened, Joseph Drouhin exhibited tremendous aroma of a fresh grape coming strongly right from the bottle, and for Duboeuf the same aroma was also noticeable, but less prominent. From here on, let’s diverge and talk about two wines separately.

Georges Duboeuf. Beautiful very intense dark garnet color. Nose is very solid, doesn’t have any off flavors which are common with very young wines. Cherries and raspberries are noticeable on the nose. With the first sip comes first surprise – the wine has very noticeable tannins. I don’t remember ever tasting the tannins in the Beaujolais Nouveau wines – wonder if this is the style of Duboeuf, but in any case that was a surprise – rather a good one, however. In addition to the cherries I can pick up some plums on the palate, all complemented by good acidity. This wine can be perfectly enjoyed by itself, but will also work very nicely with the wide range of lighter dishes or mild cheese. Considering the price of about $10 per bottle, this wine has great QPR.

Joseph Drouhin. The color is nearly identical – nice deep garnet. Nose is similar to Duboeuf, again without any off flavors. In addition to cherries I would say that there is a hint of strawberries, and again to my surprise, I would probably add a hint of white pepper to that bouquet, which is not something I would typically associate with Gamay grape. On the palate, I would dare to say that this wine has more flavor. I practically don’t pickup any tannins, but instead, there is a great amount of nice supple fruit (again, cherries, plums, raspberries) and very refreshing acidity – oops, and now tannins are coming in approximately 30-40 seconds after the sip of wine. Wow! If the first wine was good, this one is even better – and again, amazing QPR at $11/bottle.

Well, what can I tell you? There is a general sentiment among wine industry professionals that quality of the wines is becoming better and better every year. Tasting these two wines today, I can not agree more. I clearly remember a number of years ago tasting Beaujolais Nouveau with the only one afterthought – “please, I don’t want to ever touch this wine again, and… is it okay to pour the rest of this bottle down the drain?”. My experience this year is totally different. These wines are excellent, and if you didn’t do it yet, you have to go and buy a few bottles… and enjoy! In terms of drinkability, I would rate Duboeuf at 8-, and Drouhin at 8. And, yes, I know it is late, but I need another glass…

%d bloggers like this: