’05 Cru Beaujolais Afternoon
This late summertime is the perfect time to spend on back porches drinking good wine with good people, not blogging. I suppose, however, that since i spent last weekend doing just that, i can break my blogging hiatus to write about it.
On sunday of last my wife and i were invited to a gathering of South Bay oenophiles to drink Beaujolais. And not just any Beaujolais, multiple vintages of cru Beaujolais from the top producers (minus a few). The theme was ’05s with some younger/older stuff for comparison. We drank late into the day, had wonderful food, good company, and lovely weather. i suggest everyone do this someday soon before the summer runs out.
Beaujolais is stuck in a bad place. On one hand it has become maligned as a light, cheap, unsophisticated wine (due mostly to Beaujolais nouveau) not suitable for anyone with any sort of sophisticated palate. On the other hand it’s constantly being defended against these charges to the point of seemingly desperate apologism (“no i swear Beaujolais can be good WHY WONT YOU PEOPLE JUST TRY SOME”). Of course, as in most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, or to say it better: most Beaujolais is awful swill and the best stuff is to be found with a small group of producers who are not only seeking to make the best possible expression of Beaujolais, but to redefine what Beaujolais is known for in the public perception. (If you’re reading this blog you probably know about the famous (in natural wine terms) “Gang of Five” that is largely responsible for the now changing view of Beaujolais, but if you do not go HERE.)
Flight one was more recent vintages to get everyone warmed up.
2007 Dominique Piron Beaujolais-Villages Domaine de la Chanaise – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages
Light, velvety texture with some protein shake fruit underscored by some odd chunkiness on the mid-palate that threw the whole thing out of balance. Can’t say i’d drink this again.
2006 Domaine des Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Beaujolais Cuvée l’Ancien Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais
A line of clean tart red fruit acidity running right through the middle and hanging on into the finish. This was the perfect wine to get the palate ready for a long day of tasting.
2006 George Descombes Brouilly – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Brouilly
A lot of Chauvet carbonic on this right off the bat. this was the first wine to divide the table, with some people declaring the funk, well funky and others declaring it just, well, funky. Nice dusty tannins on the finish. Now we’re talking.
On a side note i was discussing how exactly to describe the taste of carbonic maceration that doesn’t just rely on “carbonic maceration” as the sole descriptor. We came up with “porous volcanic rocks” but maybe that doesn’t really work either. Thoughts?
2006 Domaine des Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Côte de Brouilly – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Côte de Brouilly
Going from lighter to heavier this was showing a lot of structure, darker red fruits, sophisticated acid (what the fuck is sophisticated acid? i don’t know but i’m sticking with it) chalky minerality. This is a “hold” answer on the drink or hold question.
The first flight of the ’05s
2005 George Descombes Brouilly – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Brouilly
Got a lot of red apple acid flavors that i typically associate with Burgundy on this, some chalky dried raspberry, nice whiff of brett (yes i said “nice whiff of brett”). Best wine of the flight according to me.
2005 Domaine Ruet Brouilly – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Brouilly
This one had a serious dropping a stone into a well “thud” on the midpalate. Roundish at first, tastes like gamay, and then…nothing.
2005 Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly Cuvée des Ambassades – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Côte de Brouilly
Of all the ’05s this was the most open and ready to drink right now which is always nice when you realize as you’re drinking a wine. Sweaty saline minerality on raspberry and cherries. Also wine of the flight if you can pardon my indecisiveness.
2005 Domaine du Vissoux / Pierre-Marie Chermette Moulin-à-Vent Les Deux Roches – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent
Can i get into Chermette? Everyone else digs his stuff, but i have always felt it out of balance and “angular” (a term i’m loathe to use). This one was tight, acidic, and yes “angular.” Retry in a few years.
Second ’05 flight killed it. Four different wines, different flavors, just add something generically wine-writerish here for “diversity of terroir/styles/etc.”
2005 Domaine Piron & Lafont Chénas Quartz – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Chénas
If anyone asks me in the future to describe minerality in red wine i’m going to run with this one as my answer. So minerally it gets right past fruit into some copper penny territory. i’m withholding judgment on this one until i try it alone as it’s a nicely singular wine.
2005 Marcel Lapierre Morgon – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
Sprawling ranch houses made of cranberries built on loose gravelly soil. All structure and acid right now. Another “hold” wine, although it’s drinking nicely right now.
2007 Michel Guignier Morgon Cuvée Traditionelle – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
This was a softer, juicier riper wine than the others. This reminds me of so many other beaujolais that it is way into “generic” territory.
2005 Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
This opened up with a dirty whiff of brett and carbonic but quickly opened up into blackberries dipped in mud. This was another wine that had the table divided between acceptable flaws and just flawed wine. I dig it, others don’t. Isn’t taste a great thing?
Third ’05 flight didn’t quite do it for me…
2005 Domaine Perrachon Juliénas Château de la Bottiere Cuvée Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Juliénas
Heat damage? Not sure, but this wine was kind of fucked up in a weird way. Calling it flawed.
2005 M.J. Vincent Juliénas Domaine Le Cotoyon – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Juliénas
Toasted wood on Beaujolais? Leave me out of this one. Vanilla-raspberry shake.
2005 Domaine du Vissoux / Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Les Garants – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Fleurie
OK i’ll admit i warmed up to this wine despite my resistance to Chermette. Started out weird again but with some breathing time it opened up into nice black fruits and balanced acidity.
2005 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Fleurie
Tight as a drum. Give this one time or, as a coworker likes to say, you’re gums will be bleeding.
Some older stuff wrapped up the day.
2002 Jean-Paul Thevenet Morgon Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
People oftentimes say not to compare wines to one another and instead focus on the wine in the glass, but seriously with a wine like this it is impossible to not use it as a reference point. Everything has integrated so nicely that the wine is telling the rest of the wines what they can become in a good vintage.
2002 Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
2002 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette – France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Fleurie
Last wine of the day always gets the “i think it was good so i’ll go with that because i can’t remember” tasting note. Seriously assessing wine correctly at this point after a corked wine is kind of pointless for me. Call it lazy or whatever, but at least it’s honest.
Thanks to Sandy for hosting, and to Richard for the excellent photos.