LET’S CELEBRATE SPRING WITH CRU BEAUJOLAIS
My favourite springtime drinking is Beaujolais. Why? “Beaujolais is the only red wine in the world that flaunts gaiety: lightness, youthfulness and extroverted fragrance; the most perfect ‘quaffing’ wine, equally at home with or without food” – my first book “Enjoying Wine”, 1985. If the sun is out lightly chill it; if the wintery cold is still lingering, enjoy it at room temperature. Whatever; it will provide instant relaxation.
As much as I enjoy the better wines of the simple Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages appellations, I usually spend a little more money on one of the Cru Beaujolais.
What are the Cru?
These are the ten premier villages of the northern Beaujolais – the aristocracy of the region. Each one is entitled to its own appellation. Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Régnie and Saint Amour. The wines have more structure, but without losing the gloriously cheerful, extroverted nature of Beaujolais gaiety. They produce a significant percent of the area’s output – around 25-30%.
In the past couple of decades there has been a revolution on these northern slopes with the new generation of vignerons using wild yeasts, cutting back on yields and slowing down the fermentations. All this emphasizes the glories of succulent, juicy Gamay fruit.
There has never been a better time to drink the Crus
Nature has been kind to Beaujolais with a succession of great vintages. 2009 was an intense, aristocratic vintage with profound fruit flavours. 2010 was a humdinger; more traditional style flaunting gaiety. And then along comes the glorious 2011. In May last year Will and I tasted out of the barrel with Frédéric Bénat, and the aromas and flavours were phenomenal. Frédéric said, “We had a warm April and May with early flowering, followed by a sunny June and July. We started harvest on August 22 in perfect weather, which lasted”.
And ……More good news. It’s affordable!!!
In these days of inflated wine prices these handcrafted wines offer remarkable value … even in a country such as ours where the rapacious powers that be are forever jacking up the Excise Duty! We ship from two growers – You owe yourself a bottle or three.
FRÉDÉRIC BÉNAT’S DOMAINE DE COTOYAN
This 15 hectare Domaine is in the most northerly part of the region. I love his ‘style’ – glorious up-front fruit which lingers on the palate.
JULIENAS 2011 £26.50
Rich, luscious cherries which bounce around in the mouth.
SAINT AMOUR 2011 £26.50
Packed with soft and silky rounded plums and redcurrants.
BROUILLY 2011 £25.00
I met Jean-Marc at the 2000 “Fetes des Crus” where I was a judge. His wine won the Gold Medal for the best Brouilly. Then he won the “Best Wine of the Show”. ”Double Gold”, as they would say in Australia. Archetypal easy-going Gamay with a lovely depth of raspberry and cassis flavours.
REGNIE 2011 £25.00
A whoosh of zippy raspberry fruit with elegance. Great stuff!
Prices subject to change