Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Beaujolais Challenge - Beaujolais-Villages

Beaujolais-villages wines come from the hills in the northern part of the region, and make up about a quarter of the wine produced in Beaujolais. This is the same part of the region where the 10 Cru Beaujolais communes live. We enjoyed a bottle of Beaujolais-Villages wine the other night while we roasted a red pepper and added it to a salad of fresh made mozzarella, peppery arugula, and fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

So is Beaujolias-Villages different from Beaujolais? It is obviously impossible to tell from one bottle, and this will be true for the rest of the posts in this series. Instead I will offer whatever observations I and fellow tasters can make and you can take them with a grain of salt.

If you are interested in details, one difference between Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages, according to Jancis Robinson's Oxford Companion to Wine, is the maximum permitted yield. At 3.1 ton/acre for Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages must keep yields 10% below that. Assuming no major changes in wine making techniques, this should mean that the wines of Beaujolais-Villages are deeper and more intense.

For whatever it's worth, that intensity is demonstrated in this one bottle. Although the wine is light in color and the aromas are also light, subdued on the first day, the flavors are strong, concentrated. In addition to fresh ripe strawberry fruit, there is a prominent mineral streak that really defines the character of this wine.

2005 Pascal Granger Beaujolais-Villages, $14 (Chambers Street Wines).
Austere on the first day, and not because it was chilled. The wine showed so much iron that it was almost rusty. It was not entirely enjoyable, actually. But on day two the wine was more balanced, with ripe strawberry and raspberry flavors and juicy underlying acidity to compliment the still strong iron flavor. Day three is the best, as the overall impression is juicy and fresh, with an interesting mineral finish. There is a lot of sediment in my glass after the last pour, which is pretty cool for a young wine. Probably it is not filtered.

Does this mean that the wine should age for a few years? Maybe so, but that would really be a pain in the butt, wouldn't it? Who needs to cellar their Beaujolais? It's supposed to be pure sipping pleasure, with or without food, not-think-too-hard wine. Shouldn't I be able to buy it off the shelf and pop it open that evening? Fine, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent usually benefit from aging, and that's fine, but Beaujolais-Villages?

Possibly this is a 2005 curiosity, as everyone might be tempted to make their personal work of art in this "vintage-of-the-century." I will have to try more Beaujolais-Villages before making any real judgments, but I can say from this bottle that I would happily spend a little less for Beaujolais (either of the wines we tasted, for example) and pop and pour them without thinking twice. I bet that will not be the case with Cru Beaujolais...we'll see.


Anonymous said...

"...I would happily spend a little less for Beaujolais..."

Keep in mind, the exchange rate is really awful now. Imagine this wine at 40-80% less if you lived in France.

Brooklynguy said...

Hiya Jack,
So true, so true. So much wine that I think of as a decent value at $15 is less than $10 worth of Euro in France. I doubt we're going to see a reversal in the dollar's value anytime soon. WHat do you think?

michael, claudia and sierra said...

as i said - i don't drink like i used to due to my guy's situation - but on a night like tonight, i'm going to crack open a bottle with a friend. not a beaujolais, but still unsure. my wine rack is dwindling down to some pretty ordinary stuff. by the way - although i've not been posting as of late due to this month being way too busy - i am starting a real live blog - up and coming - unlike my current little test blog. i'm more or less off of blogger and got me a domain name and a host and have been learning how to use word press. this is not so easy for me... we take off tomorrow for a frank lloyd wright tour through pennsylvania - not a sexy holiday but we're staying in a home he designed called duncan house and then doing the "falling water/kentuck knob" shuffle. also my brother's 50th in baltimore... so - then i will do better on the blogging. my current site is soon to be called sorry for the long post but all this blogging is because of you and some overcooked unbrowned scallops... of course those scallops are a thing of the past...

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Claudia - I hope you enjoyed your wine and that you enjoy your vacation. Good luck with your new venture.