Beaujolais was our Thursday night tasting theme this past week. Not the Beaujolais Nouveau that will be released this Thursday Nov. 17th but Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais. Beaujolais Nouveau is really just a marketing term popularized by George Duboef to promote young wines from the area.
Beaujolais is actually part of Burgundy, it is a strip about 9 miles wide by 34 miles long between Macon and Lyon. There is very little Pinot Noir grown in this area, it is primarily Gamay Noir with just a little Chardonnay. Gamay Noir is a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais and has no relationship to the Gamay you used to see in California.
The climate in the area is more like the Rhone than Burgundy, warmer and drier. This accounts for the different grapes grown in this area. Another thing that distinguishes Beaujolais from other French wine regions is they undergo carbonic maceration. Rather than crushing the grapes and placing them in the tanks, they just put the whole clusters in and let the weight of the top grapes crush the bottom ones. As the fermentation starts in the bottom grapes the carbon dioxide is released and starts a fermentation within the grapes above. This makes for a fruity light wine.
We tasted two Beaujolais Villages and four Cru Beaujolais. Five of the wines, one Village and all of the Cru were by the same producer (Henry Fessey) and it was interesting to see how the different vineyards taste compared with each other. The remaining Village was produced by George Duboef.
Our first wine to taste was the 2009 Georges Duboef Beaujolis-Villages. The color was a medium ruby and there was a minimal nose. There were bright red fruit flavors and significant tannins with a very light mouth feel. A surprising combination. This would be a very good warm weather red wine.
The second wine, a 2000 Beaujolais-Villages produced by Henry Fessey was dark ruby with a stinky nose initially, but that blew off to light fruit nose. The flavor was bright red fruit with light mouth feel again, this was a little bigger version of the first wine.
All the rest of the wines were Cru Beaujolais produced by Henry Fessey. The first was the Chateau des Reyssiers Regnie 2009. It had a very dark ruby color with a minimal nose of sweet fruit. There was more fruit flavor than the previous two wines–cherry and strawberry flavors, moderate tannins with good acid and a long finish. A bigger mouth feel than the previous wines.
Next we had the Brouilly 2009 Cru Beaujolais. It had a dark ruby color with a stinky nose initially which blew off and then a minimal nose. There were darker fruit flavors with moderate + tannins. Also more complex flavors with a longer finish.
The Fleurie 2009 Cru Beaujolais was our third Cru Beaujolais. With a dark ruby color the nose was slightly minty and mineral. A lighter mouth feel with flavors of plums and light red fruit. Smoother but significant tannins with a long finish. Overall, the fruit was tart like cherries.
The last one was the 2009 Moulin-a-Vent and it also a dark ruby color with a restrained nose. There was pleasant medium red fruit and plums with grippy tannins and good acid. Slightly sweet. Some described it as cough syrup like.
We had a good selection of Beaujolais and it was neat to have so many from the same producer. We have only had Beaujolais twice before so this gave us a little more exposure.