Wednesday, April 6, 2011
First and foremost, I am talking about Beaujolais, not Bueaujolais Nouveau (although it will get a shout out later). Beaujolais is going to be made almost exclusively with 100% Gamay, which is quite user-friendly in that it is very fruit forward. It is also suggested that the wine be cooled (not chilled, but cooled), which is unusual for a red wine. There is also a small amount of white Beaujolais made from Chardonnay and Aligote grapes, but you are not going to find them in the U.S.
Beaujolais wines are made using a process called carbonic maceration, which converts sugar in uncrushed grapes to alcohol. Whole clusters of grapes are placed in a chamber excluding oxygen, without yeast, and the fermentation takes place within each grape.
The three different quality levels of Beaujolais are Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages and Cru, with Cru being the best. Cru wines will actually be named for the producing village. The ten crus are Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Cote De Brouilly, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Regnie and St. Amour.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebration of the harvest. It was designed to be drunk in the vineyard, but has now become as popular with the masses as Thanksgiving. It should, however, be drank as close to its release date (the third Thursday in November) as possible. While it is most certainly of a lesser quality, I must confess to taking part in the celebration every year.
Today I tried two Beaujolais Crus. My first was a 2007 Moulin-a-Vent. My first taste was at room temperature. While I did smell some black cherry, there was not a lot going on for taste - in fact I did not care for it much - but I pushed on. I poured my second glass while capping the bottle and putting it in the refrigerator. It was a little softer, but still nothing spectacular. Unfortunately, after cooling, there was still not much going on. I had my fingers crossed for the second wine, as this was the more expensive of the two.
Number two is a 2006 Morgon. It is looking a little more promising. Same dark cherry smell, but a little vanilla as well. We'll see how it does with time and/or cooling......Turns out it was a little better. This is definitely my favorite of the two, but I don't know if I will buy again. To finish that first bottle (I don't like to waste), I seriously considered adding 7Up.....but did not.