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We were very happy to see Eric Asimov's excellent article in the NY Times on Wednesday "Fleurie and Morgon: Greatness if Not Gravitas" which praised numerous wines from these two appelations and many of our favorite growers. Mr. Asimov captured what we love about good Beaujolais "... they remain imbued with the sense of joy that seems inherent in good gamay. They can be enjoyed early and fresh, or they can be aged for five to 15 years, and sometimes longer. They are great, yet they are fun." And they are certainly one of the greatest "food" wines in the world, with moderate alcohol, bright acidity and delicate flavors that complement a wide variety of cuisines. 2014 is indeed a lovely vintage for Beaujolais, with lush fruit balanced by bright acidity and good terroir expression, and with alcohol levels that are rarely over 13%. Many of the best wines have already disappeared, but we are happy to offer some remaining gems as well as a few great wines from 2012 as well.
Of special note is the Alain Coudert Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie "Cuvée Tardive." Certainly one of the top wines of the vintage, this beautiful wine is from old vines next to Moulin-a-Vent on Manganese-rich soils, giving it more structure and density than most Fleuries. While it's beautifully ripe and delicious now, it will be superb after 5 to 7 years of cellaring and drink well at least until 2025-2030. And don't miss the Jean-Louis Dutraive Brouilly Vieilles Vignes. From old vines on a hillside vineyard, it's a delicate, complex and simply delicious old-fashioned Beaujolais that will bring great pleasure over the next five to eight years!
(Many of the 2015 Beaujolais tasted in France this winter showed great promise, but with some wines suffering from over-ripeness and high alcohol. Stay tuned and look out for the lovely 2015 "Exspectatia" from Christian Ducroux arriving in May.)
Alain Coudert seems to make terrific wine every year and the 2014 Clos de la Roilette is no exception. A parade of awful weather early in the year finally gave way to sunshine from mid-August through September, imparting lovely ripeness to the wines balanced by good acidity. Not as structured as the 2010s perhaps or as dense as the 2009s, but the 2014s offer juicy, delicious drinking now with moderate ability to age. This lovely wine shows deep black cherry, blackberry, red currant and violet aromas with earth, citrus and spice. The palate is round with soft tannins but nice acidity, with velvety berry liqueur, beach plum, spice and licorice. Delicious! Drink now or hold for eight to ten years...
From eighty year-old vines on clay and granite soil in Alain Coudert's beautiful Clos de la Roliette, just over the border from Moulin-a-Vent. By "Tardive," Alain Coudert implies that one should wait for this wine to mature, in this case probably about 5 to 7 years, although those unable to wait will certainly enjoy drinking it now. In the cavalcade of great Cuvee Tardives, the 2014 weighs in at 13% and shows a more weight and flesh than the racy and wonderful 2012, and a bit less structure than the 2010 (our favorite of recent vintages) and is brighter and more balanced than the monumental 2009. In other words, it's a fabulous wine that should be in the cellar of any lover of Beaujolais! The wine is a deep red/black color and shows fresh, high-toned aromas of blackberry liqueur, strawberry, violets, brown spice, licorice and grilled meats - really quite lovely. The palate is framed in stone and mineral flavors with firm acidity, with earthy dark fruits and an almost bitter finish of saline minerals and black fruits. This is a superb Tardive, very expressive of the manganese-rich soils and a lovely combination of beautiful floral/fruit aromas and a dark mineral-laden palate. Wait five to seven years, drink until 2030?
Aged in two to six year-old Burgundy barrels. From eighty-plus year-old vines, as is Tardive. "The wood is obviously not present to mask the wine, but rather to accompany it, to complement its tannins and create complexity. It's really tight the first two years, but opens up beautifully when you give it some time," says Alain. Tasted side by side with the 2013 in January, the 2014 showed telltale signs of this excellent vintage offering compelling dark fruit and a touch of spice on the nose along with faint traces of licorice. It comes across a bit softer on the palate with velvety black berry fruit and ample minerality. Textured, long, and graceful, this will need at least a few years (if not many more) in the cellar to really shine, so buy a few - you won't regret it! Tim Gagnon
Certified organic since 2009, the Dutraive family's Domaine de la Grand Cour produces subtle, traditional wines from their 9 hectares in Fleurie and a small parcel in Brouilly. Harvested by hand, the grapes ferment with wild yeasts in carbonic maceration, without addition of sulfur. The "Clos de la Grand Cour" is aged in a combination of cuve inox, barrels and foudres. The wine shows bright aromas of violets, raspberry and strawberry fruit, earth and spice. Pretty berry and plum fruits on the palate with refreshing citrusy acids. The palate opens up nicely with time showing deep red-currant, strawberry, beach plum and citrus with a long sappy finish.
From low-yielding 60 to 70 year-old vines. Wild-yeast semi-carbonic maceration, without addition of SO2, aged in 1 to 4 year old barrels. Light garnet color, complex ethereal aromas of raspberry and strawberry with spice, earth and citrus. Very mineral, textured palate with firm acidity showing plum and black fruits, light but persistent with a long finish of berry fruits with spice, earth, citrus and saline minerals. Not a fruit bomb, but a complex wine of terroir. 12% alcohol. Decant if drinking now, best after three to five years.
From a small hillside parcel of 50-plus year-old vines in Brouilly, certified organic. Carbonic maceration with no addition of SO2, followed by foot-pressing, gravity fed into large barrels or foudres for aging. Light red/black color. Complex bright raspberry, plum, citrus, violet and brown spice. The palate is light but intense with black raspberry and cherry fruit that coats the palate, with a long finish of saline earth, bright acidity and red fruits. Drink alongside their Fleurie for an excercise in terroir! This is a subtle light-bodied old-school Beaujolais that will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years. Best with charcuterie, roast chicken, pork and mild cheeses.
Georges Descombes is one of the finest wine-makers in Beaujolais, consistently producing stylish, balanced wines which benefit from his great vineyard work and careful vinifications with minimal sulfur dioxide. The 2014 Morgon is a beautiful, perfectly balanced wine that is delicious now and over the next three to five years. Lovely garnet color, pretty, quite floral raspberry/strawberry aromas with citrus, spice and herbal notes. the palate is light but has good density and supple, pure berry fruit with earthy citrus and mineral flavors in the long finish. 12.5% alcohol. Highly recommended.
Jean-Paul Brun of Domaine des Terres Dorées has 2 parcels of 50 year-old vines on a steep section of Mont Brouilly with a south-east exposition at about 1,000 ft of altitude. The thin soil is almost entirely stones of granite with a high iron content. (A more interesting terroir than the thicker, damper soils of Brouilly.) This is a gorgeous wine! Lovely, ripe blackberry and raspberry/strawberry fruit aromas with a touch of violets and earth. The palate is ripe but balanced (at 12.5% alcohol) with black and red fruit liqueur and fresh citrusy acids that linger in the finish. A beautiful Beaujolais for current drinking and over the next few years. Highly recommended! "Contains very little sulfite," says the label "store in a cool place and consume rapidly after uncorking" We haven't noticed any problem keeping this wine, but consuming rapidly after uncorking will be easy... DL
Julien Guillot makes this lovely natural Chénas with grapes purchased from a friend working organically near La Chapelle-de-Guinchay, with zero added sulfites. (The label was created for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009) The 2014 is an intense and beautiful botlle of Beaujolais, showing fresh ripe blackberry with a bit of violet, pepper, musk, earth and citrus. The palate is dense and vibrant with firm acidity and deep blackberry fruit, earth and licorice with saline minerals coating the mouth in the long intense finish. Carafe a few hours in advance if drinking now or cellar 3 to 5 years - drink until 2025.
Guy Breton's Regnié is from 35 year-old and 100 year-old vines on shallow sandy soils over decomposed granit. The 2012 was a bit asutere but elegant, subtle and delicious - we can't wait to try the 2014!
Jean-Paul Brun makes old-school, soulful Beaujolais, and vinifies his Gamay with indigenous yeasts, minimal chaptalization, and traditional Burgundian techniques (no carbonic maceration). Nearly 80-year old, later-harvested vines result in a Beaujolais with remarkable concentration and depth for an under $20 wine. Wild red and black cherry flavors combine with earth and spice notes, framed by a fresh acidity. An excellent quaffer to accompany roast pork or roasted Brussel sprouts/root vegetables. Jonas Mendoza
From a plot of 80 plus year-old vines, aged in used barriques. A bit lighter than the Côte Brouilly, showing lovely high-toned black raspberry, wild strawberry and blood orange — really complex and elegant. The palate has deep black raspberry and cherry fruit with bitter herbs, citrus and mineral flavors and fabulous length. Really a complete wine with lovely fruit, terrific minerality and balance, probably best 2018- 2023, but delicious now as well...
Another lovely Brouilly Vieilles Vignes from Georges Descombes, certainly one of the best producers in Beaujolais! This needs some time to open up then shows blackberry/strawberry aromas with earth, violets and hints of spice. The palate is quite ripe for a 2012 with red and black fruits tinged with citrus and spice, and a nice finish of red berries and earthy acids. Delicious now with some aeration, this should drink at it's best from 2017 to 2023.