The holidays are the time of the year we share wine with friends and family. This year I decided to introduce my 21 year old daughter to red wines. Like a lot of novice wine drinkers, her tastes are tuned to white wines that are slightly (or noticeably) sweet. But she’s been drinking some sangria of late so I thought the next step was tasting some fruit-driven, soft reds.
I immediately thought of Beaujolais as this was one of the first red wines I discovered back in the day. Made from Gamay Noir in an appellation to the south of Burgundy, Beaujolais continues to deliver great value even in times of challenging exchange rates. And it’s not clear to me why this is given the overall market and mainstream awareness of the area due to massive marketing for Beaujolais nouveau every November.
So this Christmas I opened a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2009 in the place of my usual Bordeaux or aged California Cabernet. And while it struggled to keep up with the rib roast at times, I found the wine to be bright and satisfying. And my daughter is now a red wine fan even without the fruit juice and ice. Perhaps next year she will develop a taste for more hearty wines? We’ll see.
Louis Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages 2009 ($12) – Ruby in color with aromas of strawberry and fennel. Bright, juicy cherry and strawberry fruit finishing with a touch of banana and supple tannins. Has everything I love about Gamay at a fair price and available just about everywhere.
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Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivÃ©!Â
But I’m not going to post reviews for that style of Beaujolais this year as there are much better values in French Gamay than the 20% sold as glorified barrel samples 8 weeks after harvest. The best of these are made in the 10 “Crus” or growths of Beaujolais. These wines have more much depth than Beaujolais Nouveau and can still be very enjoyable 4-5 years after harvest while Nouveau declines at about 5 months of age. But the craziest thing to me is Cru Beaujolais is the same or less money than Beaujolais Nouveau.
This wine comes from Beaujolais mega-producer Georges Duboeuf who’s promotional genius is largely behind all the Beaujolais Nouveau hype. His wines are available all over the U.S. and most good wine stores will have a selection of his Cru Beaujolais from $10-15 a bottle. Morgon is one of my favorite crus and Duboeuf makes two bottlings: the “Flower” label here and Domaine Jean Descombes. I’ve tried both from the 2005 vintage and they are very close in taste and quality.
Georges Duboeuf, Morgon, “Flower Label” 2005 ($10) – Dark ruby color with aromas of cherry, raspberry and violets. Fresh and juicy black cherry fruit, some white pepper, finishing with supple tannins. An excellent value perfect for the Thanksgiving table.
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To me Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebration wine as it is released the week of my birthday each year. It also celebrates the just completed harvest and the promise for the wines made in Burgundy that year. Seems a lot of wine geeks and other bloggers don’t care for the stuff and that’s fine with me as you should drink what you like.
Before I present my favorite wine tasted this year, a bit of a story about my relationship with Beaujolais Nouveau. Back when I lived in Orange County, California there was a restaurant called Bouzy Rouge in Newport Beach. This was before the area was branded “The OC” in television and lifestyles of housewives so a bit of eccentricity was still allowed. The owner’s dilapidated Citroen was parked in front of the restaurant and they had some fun events, like the Beaujolais Nouveau release each year. My wife and I went every year we lived there and the young wine was served directly from the barrel into carafe or glass. It was almost like you were in Beaujolais. So this is what I remember each year when the time comes to try the new vintage.
This year I went to a couple of the better local stores and sampled 7 or 8 wines from different producers. Most were fine; fruity and exuberant but seemed a bit one dimensional which is par for the course here. Only one wine was very disappointing, served from promotional barrel (a very small one) that took me back to Bouzy Rouge. Ironically it was from the same producer I enjoyed so many years ago, Georges Duboeuf (could have been an off-barrel, I suppose). But of all the wines I sampled, only one stood out as something I’d like to take home. And I did just that and offer this review from the bottle opened this evening.
Pascal Chatelus, Beaujolais Nouveau 2007 ($12) – Bright ruby in color with aromas of wild cherry candy and banana. Juicy and tart in the mouth with candied cherry and strawberry fruit with some banana from the mid-palate to the finish. Just what I’m looking for in a Beaujolais Nouveau. Drink before 2008, preferably with food and good friends.
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Another look at the Gamay Noir grape, this time focusing mostly on New World examples from Napa Valley and Oregon. I interview Drew Dickson from the Andrew Lane Winery and announce my raffle prize in the Menu For Hope III Campaign.
00:21 – Introduction and show theme
00:39 – Gamay Noir background
01:20 – Interview with Drew Dickson from Andrew Lane
08:22 – Tasting Notes
08:53 – Andrew Lane, Gamay Noir, Napa Valley 2004 ($18/sample)
09:15 – Amity Vineyards, Gamay Noir, “Anden Vineyards” 2004 ($17) *
10:07 – Laboure-Roi, Beaujolais-Villages, Saint-Armand 2004 ($11)+
11:17 – Best of Tasting *
11:22 – Best Value +
11:29 – Menu for Hope III Campaign
13:23 – Contact Details
13:40 – Next Show Theme
Copyright 2006 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed to the public under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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