Meet the white wine that’s actually red in color. Beaujolais, France: the region where the Gamay grape reaches its pinnacle of expression. The grape that creates the beautifully delicate wines of Beaujolais takes many forms in the bottle, and they are perfect to drink year-round, especially in the summertime. In the northern regions lay the Crus, amassing to some of the most remarkable red wines in their youth, also showing tremendous potential to age. To the south, some of the more basic Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais Villages wines are taken swiftly from harvest, to press, to bottle using a carbonic maceration process that brings out the tartness of the fruit. The more reputable old-world producers are known for even omitting the addition of sulfur. When you drink Beaujolais, you are drinking the ripest, most freshly picked fruit, with juice still clinging to its cluster. With very light tannins, Beaujolais is easy to recognize, displaying ripe and tart flavors of black cherry, sweet raspberry, and floral notes (usually of rose petals and violets). As one of the most widely distributed table wines in Paris, Beaujolais sometimes doesn’t even see the bottle, and is purchased by bistros in barrel, and poured directly into a carafe for customers to enjoy by the glass. There are several variations in quality, and some have given the grape a sour reputation. However, look to the Crus of the north for real quality and surprising value. Highlighted below are 3 Beaujolais Cru wines we highly recommend trying as summer heats up. Pair these wines with grilled fish, like a loup-de-mer, or even lighter meats on the grill, like veal chops and game birds. It also works wonderfully with chicken on the barbecue. Serve them slightly chilled to express their refreshing vibrancy.
1. JEAN FOILLARD Morgon Cuvée Corcelette ($37) A Morgon true to its roots, planted in sandy soils, with fruit from 80 year-old vines. This is worth looking for. Using only the most authentic of practices, (and even a wax top) Foillard omits any chaptalization (adding sugar to unfermented grape must to increase alcohol after fermentation) and even filtration, leaving only the purest expression of the Morgon terroir. What you get is a beautiful bouquet of red roses, and a concentration of black cherry, and juicy acidity that is mouth watering. There is no hidden fruit in this bottle. Although this is Beaujolais, the wines of Morgon are dense and have plenty of power. They also show their rustic roots with a slight white pepper spice to the finish. Drink now through 2022. 100 cases imported.
2. VINCENT GIRARDIN Moulin-à-Vent Domaine de la Tour du Bief Clos de la Tour ($24) Known as the most famous of the Crus of Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent takes it name from an ancient windmill, the only one of its kind in the region. This wine is built to last, and unlike its Beaujolais Nouveau and Villages cousins to the south, it packs the most punch in its youth, and therefore should rest in bottle a few years before drinking. This wine has a smokiness and a balanced tartness that play off of one another. Red plums, Herbes de provence, roses, and raspberries are loaded onto the palate. Overall, very refreshing and elegant. Drink now through 2018. 3,000 cases imported.
3. GEORGES DUBOEUF Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents ($16) Powerhouse producer Georges Duboeuf shows a charming personality in this Fleurie. It has sweet strawberries, peach, violets and soft spices, and is very delicate yet complex in overall body and structure. Although not as widely distributed as many of his other wines, it’s worth seeking out to experience much more depth of flavor and enjoyment. Drink now. 15,000 cases made.
Recommended Glassware: Riedel Vinum Burgundy Wine Glass
Coming soon: The Grapes of Summer: Pinot Noir