Showing posts with label Beaujolais. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beaujolais. Show all posts

Thursday, June 29, 2017

John Wilson’s Beaujolais Master Class. “A Wine That Made Me Sit Up And Take Notice!”

John Wilson’s Beaujolais Master Class

“A Wine That Made Me Sit Up And Take Notice!”
Contre Jour

“Beaujolais was one of the first wines that made me sit up and take notice,” said John Wilson as he introduced last Wednesday’s Beaujolais masterclass in Cork’s Clayton Hotel. 

He also admitted to being a rather cocky student at the time, maybe a bit like Beaujolais Nouveau but, like a good wine, has matured and his smooth style was very much in evidence during a very informative and well-paced session.

He didn't think that the annual wave of Nouveau did the wine much good in the long run. “Beaujolais has been through a rough time..because of the big concentrated wines that were prevalent for a long time. Its style went out of fashion. Now it's back. Its time has come again!”
“Nowhere is terroir more important. That interesting soil, the purity of the grape and quite simple wine-making leads to an easy drinking fruity wine. That doesn't mean that Beaujolais can’t be serious. I've been tasting some 2008 and 2009 Moulin À Vent recently and it is drinking like a dream. Beaujolais offers great value and a quite unique style.”

He took us through the three areas of the region. The east, with its granite, has all ten crus. “There are a huge number of small estates, including Jadot; it is the home of natural winemaking.” Gamay is “never short of acidity. You’ll love it if you like a refreshing style.”
#gogamaygo
Recent vintages were also touched on. Under-rated and excellent summed up 2014. Outstanding and exceptional, one of the best ever, were the words for 2015, “but do watch out for the high alcohol!”. The 2016 crop was badly hit by hail in May but there is a lot of promise in the reduced output as the wines are “fresh and forward with good supple fruit”.

John himself is a bit sceptical about the importance attached to “great vintages”. “There is no such thing as a great vintage but there are great winemakers. Always go to the winemaker!”

The granite's different colours

The Wines
1: Beaujolais blanc, Mommessin, Les Grandes Mises. This 2014 has “developed a bit and is a pretty nice food wine”.
2: Beaujolais rosé, Chateau de Corcelles, Rosé d’une Nuit 2016: Bone dry, “another one for food”.
3: Beaujolais, Domaine du Vissoux, ‘Les Griottes’ 2016: “A classic entry level.. acidity freshness, moreish.” This one certainly made me sit up and take notice!
4: Beaujolais Villages Domaine des Nugues 2014: “A wonderful wine, almost better than Fleurie.” I loved the finish, the purity of the fruit.
Red dominates in Beaujolais.
5: Régnié Les Vins Henry Fessy, Chateau des Reyssiers 2015: the first of the crus, “one of the most 'granitic'. A wine to drink young. Note the concentration, texture and tannin.”
6: Chiroubles Chateau de Javernand Vieilles Vignes 2015: From a small cru, almost 100% pink granite. Light, elegant, floral and fresh “one of the most interesting and enjoyable that I have come across.” And they are looking for an Irish importer!
7: Saint-Amour Maison Trénel 2015: “Always does well in February,” joked John. “The estate is now owned by M. Chapoutier.” This was perhaps my favourite of the first round.
8: Brouilly Jacques Charlet 2015. We started round two with this lovely light perfect easy drinking wine grown on soils that include blue granite. Again, John stressed that easy drinking does not necessarily mean a simple wine.
9: Fleurie Domaine de la Madone, Tradition 2015. “Very aromatic, floral, silky, but with great concentration… very fond of it. Will keep. Tasted the ten year old and it is great.” For me, this was simply superb.
10: Côte de Brouilly Jean-Paul Brun, Domaine des Terres Dorées 2015: “One of the best winemakers there. Distinctive nose..light but with length. He also makes excellent Crême de Cassis and Crémant”. I was amazed at the aromas, the concentration and the finish of this Wines Direct import.

11: Juliénas Domaine de la Conseillère 2014: “not too much granite here and a distinctive wine.” Super fruit and smooth with great finish, another star for me. John puts its excellence down to a combination of the Burgundian wine-making style employed and the Juliénas effect.
12: Chénas Pascal Aufranc, Vignes de 1939, 2016: “from a single vineyard, going the organic route, this has silky aromas and velvety texture.” I found it another excellent drop with a lip smacking finish and the second glass effect.
13: Morgon Dominique Piron, Côte du Py 2014: “Completely different..powerful concentrated wine. Needs another few years , or a steak!”. Indeed it probably needs more time, one to put away. John reckons both this and Moulin À Vent will both age well.

14: Moulin À Vent Chateau des Jacques 2012: A challenging vintage from the best known cru. Vineyard owned by Louis Jadot since 1996. “Again a Burgundian style, oak included… the colour  is towards Pinot Noir.” Perhaps my favourite overall. I found it much more approachable at this point in time than the Morgon.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Superb Reds. Both French.

Sainte Croix Le Fournas, Corbieres (AC) 2013, 13.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

This purple beauty is a blend of organic fruit: Carignan 50%, Grenache 21%, Syrah 19%, and Mourvèdre 10%, grown near the ruins of a 19th century lime furnace in the Garrigue scrub. Wild yeast and minimal pumping (to keep the fruit quality as intact as possible) are used. Ageing is 100% sur lies in tank for 18 months.

Aromas are of rich red and darker fruits. Superb delicious fruit flavours (including cassis and plum) and impressive concentration on the palate, a fresh acidity, soft tannins and some spice all contribute and what follows is an equally impressive finish. Very Highly Recommended and a wine to try again in a few years time.

They suggest pairing it with the cuisine of the Mediterranean region using tomato-based sauces, olives or wild herbs such as thyme or rosemary. The concentration of fruit and acidity balances rich sauces and particularly ‘red’ poultry/game such as pigeon, duck or guinea fowl.


Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly (AOC) 2014, 12.5%, €21.85 Wines Direct

From the vineyards of the Golden Stones, a village in Beaujolais north of Lyon, comes this wonderful and gorgeous wine. The Côte de Brouilly is one of the ten crus of Beaujolais and, yes, Brun’s Gamay grows on the granite that the grape thrives on. Jean-Paul is in the minority of French winemakers that use natural yeasts.

Colour is an attractive light red with a bunch of red and black berries in the aromas. The palate too is ripe, with a brisk and balancing acidity, lovely and soft and elegant to the end. Wonderful and refined and light on its feet, this cru is Very Highly Recommended.


I’ve been lucky this year to have had enjoyed some lovely Beaujolais and this is another one. I have a small assortment of Riedel glasses but enjoy this and similar wines from the much less expensive Lumen Arc globes that I won in a raffle in L’Atitude 51.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beaujolais Encore. Hail the classy crus.

Beaujolais Encore.
Hail the classy crus.

Beaujolais has a borderline continental climate, tempered by the presence of the Massif Central to the west and the Alps to the east. This provides a relatively warm growing season. See Wine-Searcher’s summary (weather and more) of the region here.


So they have ideal weather? Not bad, but it’s not plain sailing.  Every farmer keeps an eye on the sky, watching what is coming over them there hills. This May and June, it wasn't at all pleasant in Beaujolais. In the north of the area, where the crus are situated, the hail came with a vengeance and, according to Decanter, Beaujolais authorities reported some plots in the appellations of Chiroubles and Fleurie were completely destroyed. More on the hail here.


Not easy for the farmers. But they are a resilient lot. I remember, just a few years, visiting a vineyard in Vouvray (Loire) just days after such a devastating hailstorm. The farmer shrugged his shoulders and said that’s nature.


The crus, and we have two below, produce the flagship wines and there are ten of them: Chiroubles, Saint Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.


Read all about the May Beaujolais Masterclass in Cork here.
See yesterday's post - three different Beaujolais featured

Domaine de la Plaigne Beaujolais Villages 2013, 12.5%, €16.25 Le Caveau

Ruby is the colour here and there are aromas of red berries (strawberries, raspberries). On the palate those berry flavours are all in silky harmony. It is juicy too, light and delicious, with typical acidity and Highly Recommended.

It is one hundred per cent Gamay, hand-harvested and - the unromantic bit! - aged in concrete vats. The winemakers recommend pairing it with Delicatessen meats, fish terrine, grilled entrecote steak, poultry, Italian dishes, “ideal for all occasions from aperitif to cheese”.


Didier Devignes Clos Les Charmes, Moulin A Vent 2010, 13%, €23.95 Le Caveau


Moulin-à-Vent, with its full bodied and complex wines, is the highest rated of all the Beaujolais Crus. Liam Campbell, at the recent masterclass in Cork, called it “the most regal of all the crus”. A windmill, that was classified as a historical monument in 1930, is the well-known symbol of the Cru.
So a great cru and quite a winemaker in Didier Desvignes: “Everything I do both in vine growing and winemaking aims at allowing nature and terroir to express themselves to the full. I choose traditional methods, including tilling between the vines, to guarantee the flavours of the wine.” Still, “convinced that time in the barrel gives additional and new aromatic complexity”, he does use oak, for 10 months in this particular wine.

The wines are grown in “a remarkable vineyard” where the soil consists mainly of pink granite which has a natural affinity, it seems, with Gamay and this is 100 percent Gamay. The grapes from each plot are vinified separately to obtain the best possible balance between the structure and finesse given by the terroirs.

Colour is a rather deep ruby and the aromas are quite complex, a rich combination of cherries and berries, hints of spice. All combine harmoniously on the palate, amazing flavours and a matching acidity requesting food! Tannins are at play too and then follows a long lasting finish.

Enjoy it with small game, stews and mature cheeses, they say. I found it went very well indeed with a Irish Piedmontese steak that I bought in a very popular stall at the recent Cork Summer Show. Very Highly Recommended, both the steak and the wine!

Domaine Jean Foillard Cote du Py, Morgon 2013, 12.5%, €34.20 Le Caveau

This, from the second largest of the crus, was perhaps the standout wine of the Beaujolais masterclass held last month in L’Atitude. Introducing it, Liam Campbell told us we were in for a treat, “an outstanding wine”. And this single vineyard wine is certainly a Gamay gem.

Colour is a light ruby. Look closer and you’ll see a little cloudiness - no worries, this is a natural wine. Aromas hint of red cherry, berries too. The palate is out on its own, red fruits and a little spice, that typical balancing acidity again, tannins are fine and then a superb finalé. Very Highly Recommended

The fact that the vines are grown on “one of the best sites of the entire Beaujolais region”, on an extinct volcano, plus the use of minimum intervention (the use of oak is minimal), makes this a rather unique expression of the Gamay.

See yesterday's post - three different Beaujolais featured



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Beaujolais Wines, De première classe

Beaujolais Wines 
De première classe

Many of us were introduced to Beaujolais through the much marketed Nouveau. Decades ago now, I remember seeing one half of the local Roches Stores (now Debenhams) front window absolutely packed with colourful bottles in November. And the hype was inescapable with all kinds of contrived races set up to be first with the Nouveau in Cork or Ireland.

And that Nouveau is is still going strong all around the world. So too is the region itself, though it might not have the gravitas of Bordeaux or neighbouring Burgundy. There is a continuity of quality here, almost a guarantee of it if you move up a step or two to the Villages or to one of the ten crus.

Read all about the May Beaujolais Masterclass in Cork here.
And three more (different) Beaujolais, including two crus, here

Chateau du Chatelard Beaujolais Villages, Cuvée Les Vieilles Vignes 2013, 12.5%, €15.95 Karwig Wines

Colour is ruby and the aromas, not very intense, are of strawberries and raspberries. On the harmonious palate, you meet the expected fruits, fine tannins, the typical acidity (good for food) and a decent finish. At a recent masterclass in Cork, Liam Campbell said that Villages may be better value than the basic Beaujolais. This perfectly balanced bottle is the proof and Highly Recommended!

It is produced from old vines (up to 85 years old) and is hand-harvested. I came across some sediment, so decanting is advised. Liam also mentioned that low tannin wines may be served at lower temperatures, between 13 and 15 degrees, and his favourite pairing is with tuna steak. The producers recommend “the cuisine of spring and summer”, listing white and red meats, charcuterie and cheese. Over to you!

Chateau du Chatelard Cuvée Les Vieux Granits Fleurie 2013, 13%, €20.30 Karwig Wines

Gorgeous carmine colour catches the eye and red fruits lead the aromas, quite beguiling overall. The harmonious palate features red fruits mainly in a delightful balance of fruit and acidity, gentle tannins too, elegant and silky all the way to a superb finish. Highly Recommended.

Fleurie is one of the ten Beaujolais crus and this is made from hillside vineyards of old pink granite and is hand-harvested. They recommend trying it with white and red meats, cheese, even chocolate desserts.

Baronne du Chatelard Cuvée Les Pentes Brouilly, 13%, €19.25 Karwig Wines

Brouilly is the largest and most southerly of the Beaujolais crus and this bottle, from plots located at the heart of the appellation, has more going for it on all counts, except perhaps for acidity, than the Fleurie. If I had to pick one of the three, this would be it. But no problem with either of the other two.

It has more to offer in colour, aroma and is better on the palate with a longer finish. It will suit those who like a little more presence in the mouth. Colour is an intense ruby and then come big fruit aromas (berries and plums), vibrant fruit flavours, a hint of minerality and good finish. This elegant medium bodied wine, with rounded tannins, is Highly Recommended.

Serve, they say, at 14-16 degrees with roasted meats in sauce, poultry, and cheeses. I noticed some sediment, so do decant.

Tomorrow, watch out for another three from Beaujolais, including two crus.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Beaujolais: Wines of Character. Gamay and Granite good for each other!

Beaujolais: Wines of Character.
Gamay and Granite good for each other!
Liam Campbell (standing)
Did you know that the Gamay grape is an exile? In 1395, it was outlawed by Royal decree as being “a very bad and disloyal plant”. Sixty years later another edict was issued against it. And so it was pushed out of Burgundy and south into neighbouring Beaujolais where it has thrived on the granite based soils. Wonder what those royals, Philippe the Bold and Philippe the Good, would have made of last week’s Beaujolais masterclass in Cork’s L'Atitude 51.

Indeed, I was wondering a bit myself in advance, not knowing very much about the region other than the famous Nouveau and the Villages and a few crus. But I needn't have worried. Liam Campbell, who took us through the masterclass, had no less than 14 examples of the Beaujolais wines and very impressive they were.

Given the Beaujolais bias toward Gamay, it is not surprising that Beaujolais Blanc is little-known. Just two per cent of the crop is Chardonnay. Liam had just one example and the Domaine du Vissoux was a fresh and unoaked beauty, an immediate favourite with me. “Very versatile,” he said. “Good fruit and acidity and moderate alcohol, a great house wine in a restaurant”.

Best drunk young. And best young too applied to the Chateau de Grandmont Rosé 2014, crisp and refreshing, but not available in Ireland, seeking distribution. Liam emphasised the acidity of both these openers. Acidity is good - “it makes your mouth water.” Tannins, on the other hand, “dry the mouth” but “they are great with meat”!
Seven down, seven to go!
Onto to the reds now and a “basic” Beaujolais: Domaine Dominique Piron, Les Cadoles de la Chanaise 2014 (a good year!). Pale ruby with a nose of summery red fruit and a palate that was dry, with gentle tannins and that essential acidity again!

Moved on up then to a Beaujolais Villages, Domaine Moillard 2013. This was a very agreeable wine, again with lightweight tannins and excellent acidity and Liam reckons there is better value to be had at this level as against the general Beaujolais.

Ten Crus, the “flagship wines”, remained and here, for me, it was the finish of the wines that now began to take the attention. The Crus come from the granite hills of the northern part of Beaujolais.

Before I go into a little detail, it might be no harm here to quote from Grapes & Wine (2015 edition): “Good Beaujolais is delicious: mineral, focussed, with fruit of raspberries, black pepper, cherries; it's never overstated or blockbusting, but it has character, balanced acidity, lightness and freshness”. Reckon Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand got it more or less correct there
Jean Bourjade, MD Inter Beaujolais, speaks at the event. Nouveau? They don't
promote it anymore in Ireland....But do in some of their larger customers, such as Japan.
Chiroubles, Domaine Patrick Bouland, Vieilles Vignes 2015, seeking distribution
Liam remarked that this might need another six months. Will be worth waiting for - “2015 was a gift from the gods; 2010 and 2005 were also very good”.

Saint Amour, Maison Jean Loron, Domaine Des Billards 2011, €23.99 Classic Drinks.
The Saint of Love is the most northerly Cru. Colour is a youthful ruby - “..plenty of fuel in the tank”.

Fleurie, Maison Louis Jadot, Poncereau 2014, €19.99, Findlaters
One of the most recognizable of the Crus, grown on pink granite. It has spent 8 to 10 months in oak and “is a little bit young yet”. “This is more of a marathon runner than a sprinter. Keep for a year.”

Régnié, Domaine Rochette 2012, €17.50 James Nicholson
On the other hand, this one, which has seen no wood, “is much more concentrated, great balance and very lovely now.” Régnié is the most recently created cru.

Brouilly, Chateau du Chatelard 2014, €19.25 Karwig Wines
Brouilly is the largest Cru and this bottle has concentrated aromas and flavours. Liam found a little sediment so advised to decant it. Got a bottle of this the other day myself so looking forward to a longer acquaintance!
Jean Bourjade
As the Macon overlaps Beaujolais,
 many white wines made in northern Beaujolais
 are sold under the better-known Macon appellation.
Côte de Brouilly, Domaine de Terres Dorées, €21.15 Wines Direct
“Very savoury aromas..not typical,” said Liam. But it is rich, great balance and a great finish. One of my favourites of the class.

Juliénas, Domaine de la Conseillère 2012, €20.95, O’Brien’s
This is pretty much faultless: expressive fruity aromas, well rounded, ripe fruit, long finish.

Chénas, Paul-Henri Thillardon, Les Carrières 2012, seeking distribution
This was a “challenging vintage”, according to Liam. Jean Smullen, the event organiser, emphasised that Beaujolaise has ageing potential. “And this is an example.”

Morgon, Domaine Jean Foillard, Côte Du Py 2012, €36.95 Mitchell & Son
Côte Du Py comes from a single vineyard in the 2nd largest cru area. It is a natural wine, a risky operation, which partly accounts for the high price. Liam noted that the wine was “slightly cloudy, it is a  natural wine but, on the palate, you're in for a treat folks.” And we were. This was a higher level, great red fruit flavours, an outstanding wine. Five star. Maybe six!

Moulin-a-Vent, Didier Desvignes, Close les Charmes 2010, €23.95, Le Caveau
“This is the most regal of all the crus,” declared Liam. From crumbly pink granite soil, come some of the most intensely flavoured and multi-layered wines of the entire region, according to the Le Caveau listing. And this organic beauty was a terrific example. “Look at the colour,” said Liam. “Totally ruby, not a hint of aging. On the palate, it is very rich, dry, great flavors, long finish, a great food wine.” It was one my stars here. A great finalé.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Liam Campbell hosts Beaujolais MasterClass in Cork

Liam Campbell hosts Beaujolais MasterClass in Cork

The event is open to bone fide trade (on or off) and press. 
Contact: Jean Smullen Tel: (086) 816 8468  jean@jeansmullen.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beaujolais Nouveau Arrives in Clon next Thursday




Beaujolais Nouveau Arrives in Clon next Thursday

Celebrate one of France’s best loved traditions in The Winery (cafe/wine bar), Asna Square, Clonakilty next Thursday November 15.
They are hosting a celebration of all things French to mark the uncorking of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau.
Known as the wine of friendship, under French law, it can only be released on 12.01am on November 15, just weeks after the wine’s grapes have been harvested
Then producers race to deliver the first vintage to celebrations in France, around the world - and now Clonakilty where everyone is invited to come along and an evening of French music, food, fun and friendship from 6pm!


Some additional info:
The Winery is celebrating with Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2012.
Georges Duboeuf is known for its popularisation and production of Beaujolais wines, leading to Duboeuf’s nickname of Le Roi du Beaujolais (The King of Beaujolais) or sometimes Pape du Beaujolais (Pope of Beaujolais).
Made from 100% Gamay grapes, which have thinner skins than most grapes, causing a lower tannin level, Beaujolais Nouveau is the most popular ‘vin de primeur’, fermented for just a few weeks and then officially released for sale. By law, Beaujolais Grapes must be harvested by hand and grown on individual, free standing vines. Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration, or whole-berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine.
Beaujolais Nouveau is known internationally as the wine of friendship and hospitality. Every year, in celebration of the harvest, Georges Duboeuf unveils another interpretation of his highly anticipated Beaujolais Nouveau. Known for its colourful presentation, Dubeouf’s 2012 Nouveau label is vibrant and avant-garde with its use of red on gold images and its distinctive Duboeuf insignia, offering definite celebratory appeal!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

VILLAGE TALES


VILLAGE TALK
The hype on wine labels never ceases to amaze me. Take this for example, from an ordinary Beaujolais-Villages: “...like a dream,...a poem, or perhaps a symphony”.
My notes for this Pierre Ponnelle 2009 Beaujolais Villages were more down to earth. Leave the orchestra out of it; the string quartet will do nicely!
Colour: Light cherry red.
Nose: Tame fruit.
Palate: Light red fruit flavours, simple, easy drinking dry wine, smooth and nicely balanced with not a bad finish at all. The grape is 100% Gamay and ABV is 12.5%. Rating: ***
They say “it is .. richer than any other types of Beaujolais”. But we don’t believe everything we read on the back label. Do we?
It didn’t always have such skilled defenders as today’s PR firm. Gamay was once banned. Duke Phillip the Bold took a dislike to it back in the 14th century. But it grew its way back. The revival really took a hold in the 1960s when local grower Georges Duboef promoted, with great success, Beaujolais Nouveau.
That usually arrived in November, still does but to much less fanfare, and was meant to be drunk young and that applies to much of today’s Beaujolais (Nouveau or otherwise) though there are exceptions.
Not overly keen on this fairly average one and you, and I, would do better to find a Beaujolais Villages with the village name on the bottle – see the map (click to enlarge).  A wine made from the grapes from one of these villages is called a Cru Beaujolais, and the AOC label will name the village.  It will be a little bit more expensive but not overly so. Must say I do enjoy one every now and then, especially in summer time.

Much the same goes for Cotes de Rhone Villages. Get one with the village name on the bottle. I hit the jackpot here with a Christmas present: Chateau de Marjolet 2009 Laudun, Cotes de Rhone Village, Cuvee Tradition, 14.5% ABV, Gold Medal winner Orange 2010 ****.
(This present got mixed with others so I don't know who gave it and canl;t ask where they bought uit. Jay Fox of  has been in touch: "its hitting Ireland in about 3-4 weeks. I'll be stocking it.")


Marjolet is “an independent producer” in the village of Laudun where some of the region’s finest reds are made. Hugh Johnson has praise for it in his 2011 writings: Most happening area, bundle of good wines,...., all very drinkable.”
On the evidence of this Laudun, I agree with him. Colour is medium red with an aroma of red fruits (strawberry and cherry). On the palate, it is peppery, juicy, medium bodied and well balanced and rich with a pleasant lingering finale.