Showing posts with label Jean Smullen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jean Smullen. 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.


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