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Jamie Goode, the wine journalist, book author and flavour obsessive, reckons the move towards natural wine has been a big factor in the renaissance of Beaujolais.
Speaking at Monday’s masterclass on the region at the River Lee Hotel, the jet-lagged Goode (he had just come that morning from Vancouver), said that the movement (including Jean Foillard, another recent visitor to Cork) has “inspired a new generation”. “It is encouraging to see many more working organically or on the way towards it.”
Goode, like quite a few before him, reckoned that Beaujolais Nouveau didn’t do the region any great favours. The Gamay grape also suffered in reputation. But that is now reversed and there is lots of excitement worldwide about Gamay. He maintained the trend towards lighter wines is also helping as Beaujolais can come up with lighter styles that are still complex and he would use the masterclass to demonstrate that and the the diversity within the region.
He took us back to the time when climate was everything. Find a climate like Burgundy and you can make great Pinot Noir. It doesn’t necessarily follow. The focus is now on soil, the granite here, limestone is also sought after. He doutlined the very detailed work done on soil in Beaujolais and promised us a “very intertesting range”.
Jamie did make a case for the wine critics. “The community of critics can determine which wines are the best.” Though not necessarily unanimously. Sometimes it is not easy. Jamie told us of experts being given Beaujolais in disguise as Burgundy and falling for it!
Oddly enough, our second bottle came in a Bordeaux shape. This was the 2017 Maison Coquard from clay and limestone soils, aromatic, ripe fruits, fresh acidity and “pretty impressive for a regular Beaujolais.”
Up a step then to Beaujolais Villages, this the Moillard 2014, light of colour, moderately aromatic and good for food. Interesting thing here is that one half goes under carbonic maceration, the second is destemmed and ferments traditionally in stainless steel.
Then we were on to the crus starting with the Chiroubles Domaine des Marrans Vielles Vignes 2015 aged for 12 months in old oak foudres, nicely scented with sweet ripe fruit, tannins and some fresh acidity and an excellent finish.
Our Régnié was the most impressive at this stage and not because it came in an almost squat bottle, “a statement” according to Jamie. Ripeness in the scents, fresh yet luxurious, good balance, tannins almost contained and excellent finish. But, like quite a few of the wines on show, not available here and looking for a distributor.
The Saint-Amour, your Valentine’s day bottle, kept the standard up. The Chardigny A La Folie 2017 had direct fruit, smooth texture, tannins too and a hint of minerality, not bad at all from a high density planting.
The Bertand Vuril 2016 from Brouilly, the largest of the crus, comes from “quite a mixture of soil types” including clay, silt and limestone. Supple and elegant with that fresh fruit again, a little bit of pepper, nice mouthfeel and good finish.
Fleurie is one of my favourite crus but the Chateau Gaillard 2017 is not showing great at the moment. It has potential though and Jamie reckons it will age well.
Chateau Thivin, in conversion to organics, has “a high reputation, really solid wines” and their Les Sept Vignes 2016 demonstrated that in abundance. This excellent drop has a lovely structure, good fruit of course, very impressive for a young wine. This estate in Côtes de Brouilly is in conversion to organics.
The Chers Vielles Vignes 2017 was grown on schist soils with volcanic blue stones. I liked this, from the Juliénas cru, with its soft fresh fruit scents, its smoothness on the palate, lively acidity and long dry finish. Very Impressive.
Jamie, with Beverley of L'Atitude (Cork's top wine bar)
The Chénas region was represented by Domaine de Côtes Rémont 2916, fresh and bright, slight grip, nice finish and a “good example”.
Morgon would provide my favourite of the day, the biodynamic Villa Ponciago Les Pierres Bleues 2016. The fruit is grown on a mix of blue schist and ancient igneous type rocks. Complex aromas, excellent fruit, some grip, acidity too and a superb finish. Very Very Impressive. In 2016 and 2017 the quantity of wine produced in Beaujolais was down because of hail but the quality was up.
Moulin A Vent is another well know cru and the 2016 wine here came from Richard Rottiers. This was another with potential, one to wait for. My Tops: 1 - Morgon 2 - Juliénas 3 - Régnié, Côte de Brouilly