Monday, January 26, 2009

By the Glass - 2007 Beaujolais Edition

2007 was difficult in Beaujolais as the summer was mostly overcast and rainy. Not easy to achieve ripeness under those conditions, but September was sunny and dry and the vintage was saved. Saved for those growers who worked carefully in the vineyards to avoid mildew and rot, which generally means spraying a lot. Or possibly getting lucky and not being his by mildew because of favorable wind currents or something.

I've drank almost my fair share of 2007 Beaujolais over the past few months and I very much like the wines in general. They are not as concentrated as the 2006's - these are lighter in color and in body, and when they're good they're fresh and bright with great purity of fruit. And they are terroir expressive, which is something that I always enjoy. But this also means that little problems can make a lot more noise than they might in a vintage like 2006. For example, a bit of rusticity on the finish or volatile acidity - these are problems that become very noticeable. Bottle variation seems to be more of an issue than in the past few vintages.

2007 in Beaujolais has so far for me been about finding the wines that I want to drink now and over the next year or so. It is a vintage for drinking young. In fact, it might be best to stick with the simpler wines like Vissoux's Cuvée Traditionnelle and Brun's Cuvée L'Ancien (aka Vin de Table this year). They are quite tasty and compliment many types of food, and there is a lot of variability, sometimes disappointment, in the higher level wines.

There are wines yet to be released and others that I haven't yet had at home with dinner (Coudert Fleurie Cuvée Tardive, Diochon's Moulin a Vent, to name but two), so this is not an exhaustive report. It may prove impossible to drink some wines. Yields were down (although not as much as in 2008, from what I hear) and the economy stinks, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the wines we're used to seeing simply do not appear on retail shelves.

Here are some notes on the wines I've had at home with dinner, in order of preference, loosely speaking. Prices are east coast.

2007 Jean Foillard Morgon Cuvée Corcelette, $29, Kermit Lynch Imports. This is an old vines cuvée, I believe the vines average about 70 years old. This so far for me is the wine of the vintage, without anything coming all that close. I've had it several times now and once it was incredible, fresh and pure all the way, with lively sour cherry and herbs on the nose, and a crackling kind of energy. So refined and smooth on the palate with great density of fruit. It glides across the palate and is very well balanced, with a nice finish that really lingers. It still has a lot to reveal and I think will be best beginning in about 4 years. The second time I drank this wine I still thought it was great, but there was a bit of volatile acidity that detracted, but the purity and density of fruit was still compelling. I have a few more bottles and probably will not be cellaring much of anything else from 2007.

2007 Georges Descombes Régnié, Louis/Dressner Selections, $22. If I had to pick one wine from this vintage for drinking over the next 3 years it would be this one. Highly perfumed and just delicious with slightly rustic but sweet fruit, and there is great snappy acidity. Great balance and some complexity with air time as the mineral and earthy sides show themselves. There is plenty of grip too, actually, and this should be great for quite a few years.

2007 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette, Louis/Dressner Selections, $22. When this was good it was great, with lovely fruit on the nose, a fruit-filled punch on the palate, great balance and ample structure to hold everything together. But I drank a lesser bottle too that was very rustic and unappealing.

2007 Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes Cuvée Traditionnelle, $17, Weygandt-Metzler. One of my favorite under $15 wines every year, when it was nder $15. Now at $17 I feel like for a few buck more I can take a very large step up to any of the above wines. Be that as it may, this is still quite lovely, with good ripe fruit, snappy acidity, an herbal undercurrent, and only 11.5% alcohol this year.

2007 Terres Dorées Beaujolais Cuvée L'Ancien Vieille Vignes, $17, Louis/Dressner Selections. I haven't had this in a few months now, but I liked it a lot when I drank it. Lots of herbal character, almost resiny on the nose. Well defined and high toned red currant, herbal, and tomato leaf/potting soil flavors, kind of disjointed. On day two much more integrated. Every year I drink this too early. By the way, this is the wine that lost the appellation status for 2/3 of production due to "rubber, mushrooms, and volatile acidity." Whatever, It's very good, as it always is.

2007 Marcel Lapierre Morgon, $21, Kermit Lynch Imports. I've had two great bottles of this wine. It does well with a good decant, as usual. Light and somewhat delicate, although the floral and fruit aromas are pungent and heady. Striking for its purity, this is fresh and snappy wine, a classic Beaujolais feel to it. But I've also had to return three bottles that were undrinkable because of volatile acidity. As much as I liked it when it was good, I wouldn't buy any more of this wine. Too volatile.

2007 Terres Dorées Fleurie, $21, Louis/Dressner Selections. Lovely perfume of dark flowers, ripe fruit, and wet stones. Nice texture and zippy acidity makes this absolutely gulpable, but only for 20 minutes, and then it becomes a vat of raging acidity. Like the red sauce at a bad Italian restaurant, I'm sorry to say. And it's so funny because the nose is lovely all the while.

Please let us know if you've had something good that's not mentioned here. Or something to avoid.


Cliff said...

Thanks for these. They're very helpful. I haven't been able to sample as widely this year as in vintages past. You've covered all the bases I have and then some. I had a pretty ho-hum bottle of the Foillard Courcelette, but I'm convinced it was just the bottle, or a stage. It had all the elements, but they were muted. I've found their wines temperamental on arrival before. I also really like the basic Brun this year, and Vissoux is always solid.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these notes, I agree that Foillard has produced exceptional wine in 2007; the Cote du Py is deeper yet finer than in 2006. I would also recommend Chignard's Fleurie 'Les Moriers' 2007.

Cliff said...

I agree that Foillard has produced exceptional wine in 2007; the Cote du Py is deeper yet finer than in 2006.

Wow, really? I found the 2006 CdP muddled when it first arrived, but after a few months, it was a beautiful bottle. Glad to have grabbed a few of the 07 blind, on principle.

Wicker Parker said...

I really liked the 2007 Madone (non-cru) I had last week. It was smoky and stony, and it had a depth and grippy length I hadn't expected given the vintage's rep. I liked it more than the 2006 Madone, yep.

Unknown said...

Did you have much/any Beaujolais when you were in Burgundy? I've heard Nouveau is a completely different (i.e. good) beast when tasted locally.

Anonymous said...

interested in your thoughts re : aging.
i have only had the Coudert fleurie, and I thought it was complex enough with nice structure to go 10 years positively.
i am new to Beaujolais, but david Lille forced me to try some. if i recall correctly, he talked of aging them 10-15 years.

Anonymous said...

I bought few Jean-Marc Burgaud's Morgon Côte du Py. Still needs time to be enjoyed though

Brooklynguy said...

hi cliff - with foillard there is always variation (at least by the time they get here across the ocean), but i agree with you that the basic material in that wine are just excellent in 07. i think a good bottle will become beautiful in a few years.

anon-glad to hear that the cote de py is great in 07. i haven't tasted it yet. i had the same experience as cliff with it in 06 - it needed a lot of rest after its journey over the ocean, and then a lot of time in the decanter. i'll have to try the 07.

hey mike - which wine exactly? i looked on cellartracker and there are a load of wines with the name madone in the title. is this one under $15?

JBH - i had exactly one glass and it was Philippe Pacalet's 2008 nouveau that is shipped in its entirety to Japan. It was pretty darn good, although not something to pine for. better than any i've had here though, yup.

hi Mark - first of all, if you can talk beaujolais with david lillie, he's the guy to talk to, not me. he has exponetially more depth of knowledge and experience with it than i. but since you're here and asking...there are some that age very well, and coudert's is one of them, both the regular cuvee and particularly the cuvee tardive (old vines). there are others too, such as lapierre, foillard, desvignes, tete, and more. but not every wine in every vintage will reward cellaring. in my opinion, there are fewr wines in 07 that make sense to age than there were in 05 or 06. but that's just my opinion, and i would trust david's opinion over mine in this case.

hi rojas - never heard of that one, thanks for the tip. who is the importer, and what's the price?

Anonymous said...

I loved Brun's Cuvée L'Ancien in '05 and '06, but to me the '07 tasted indistinct, herbacious and, as you say, disjointed. You mention your bottle tasted better on day two. Can I ask how you keep the wine overnight?

Cliff said...

I, too defer to David in all things Beaujolais, and much else besides. I think you could get ten years from a good vintage of the Coudert regular, but it might be pushing things to try for much more. The 2002 is either just edging over its prime, or inching towards maturity, depending on your proclivities. Its youthful fruit is mostly gone at this point. The 2002 Tardive, on the other hand (I recently pulled one by mistake) is only just almost beginning to come around. The 1998 and 1999 were drop-dead gorgeous within the past year, just stunningly good. For me, the top candidates for aging are the Coudert Tardive and Desvignes. I've never had an old version of the latter, but its traditional production, serious, rustic tannin, and solid constitution give me faith. I also think Foillard is a solid bet, though its greater refinement makes me wonder about ultimate longevity, not that a shorter, more elegant trajectory is necessarily a bad thing. Foillard reminds me of Fourrier in that regard, compared to Desvignes' Gouges. I'm less sure about Lapierre, Tête (at least, the regular), and Descombes. For Lapierre and Descombes, I don't see the structure to last a long time, and the carbonic methods aren't known for producing super long-lived wines. My experience with Tête suggests the regular develops about the same as the Coudert regular. But who knows? Anyone ever try an old Lapierre? They've been around awhile by now.

Anonymous said...

J-M Burgaud is considered to be a rising star. I bought mine from Europe but a quick search indicates this is 18 bucks(in CA). I Have not tried others than basic Côte du Py but am looking forward to try them in future. Some comment that all Burgaud's wines should have some bottle age however

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Alex - I have tried fancy pumps and the like, and I've found that I prefer the simplest way possible. I put the cork back in the bottle, and put the bottle in the fridge.

Cliff - thanks for these astute comments. and good for you for getting started on your Beaujolais cellar back in the '90s. lucky lucky lucky...your point about carbonic vs. burgundian is an interesting one. funny though, how in some vintages one method might produce better wines, and in other vintages the reverse is true. i like carbonic in 07. and your burgundy analogy is great - fourrier and gouges indeed. now, is foillard carbonic? i think so, as a lapierre disciple. not sure though.

rojas - if they make it to nyc i will most definitely try them. thanks again for the tip.

Anonymous said...

I just double-checked Ed Behr, and, sure enough, you're right. Foillard is carbonic, too. Maybe it's the Cotes de Py that gives him more structure? Or maybe it's just me.