Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Beaujolais Challenge

I love Beaujolais. There, I said it. And now that I said it, I feel free, like dancing in the streets. Okay, an exaggeration maybe, but I do love the wines of Beaujolais. I'm not the only one, either. Many wine people hold these inexpensive and maligned wines in high esteem. These are lively and lovely wines that go great with all kinds of food, and if you spend $20 on a bottle you're buying the top of the line.

Some people just don't get it when it comes to Beaujolais. You know why - the whole Beaujolais Nouveau thing - the sweet, inexpensive, and often plonky wine that some people immediately think about when they hear "Beaujolais." When this kind of person walks into a wine store and asks for help selecting a wine for $15 or less to bring to a friend's house for dinner, and the staffer suggests a Beaujolais Villages for $12, this person says "really, a Beaujolais, huh?" and instead buys a J. Lohr Cabernet or something. We can't protect everyone from themselves, can we?

But that person is most likely not reading this blog (unless they are my parents, and they're forgiven). you are, and you already know how great Beaujolais can be. So what can I, a Brooklynguy, add to our collective understanding? Well, I got to thinking...if I had the $$$$ I would do a full tasting tour of Burgundy. I would really delve into the terroir, see how Auxey-Durresses differs from Monthelie, and that from Puligny. I would buy wines made by a few producers in Vosne-Romanee, Chambolle-Musigny, and Morey St Denis and open them all at the same time to understand something about the character of those soils.

That would cost a fortune. So I instead read Burgundy Report and whatever else I can get my hands on that talks about that sort of thing, and I catalog the Burgundy wine I do get to sample in this blog.

But I COULD do that extensive type of tasting tour in Beaujolais. I can afford that. And as far as I can tell, no one else has done anything like that and written about it online.

So here goes, The Beaujolais Challenge, a la Brooklynguy. I hereby pledge to you to taste at least two examples (I would say more, but it ain't easy to find a Saint Amour!) of wine from each of the 12 appellations of Beaujolais:

Beaujolais Beaujolais Villages, Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly, Chiroubles, Chenas, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin a Vent, Regnie, and Saint Amour.

I will give tasting notes, sure, but I will also try to learn something about the appellation and think about the wine in that context, and in the overall context of the Beaujolais region. I am thinking that I will try to choose a producer who makes wine from every appellation, if such a producer (not a negociant) exists, so as to be better able to focus on variation of location, not of wine maker. But I will taste more than one wine per appellation in order to think about wine maker variation too.

And I pledge to you to do this by the end of summer, 2007. So I have three months exactly - summer starts tomorrow people. This is going to be fun. I hope to enlist some of my wine drinking pals in this endeavor. Wish me luck!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a worthy project! Last weekend I opened my first 2005 Marcel Lapierre Morgon and found it fantastic. Your tour of discovery could almost be focused on that single cru: Lapierre, Breton, Foillard, Brun. But venturing somewhere else, when you get to Cote de Brouilly consider the 2005 Chateau Thivin--also terrific. (I know there's a bias towards one importer here, but I live in San Francisco and that's what's most available.)

Brooklynguy said...

Hiya Steve,

Thanks for these suggestions. I like JP Brun's wines, and they will probably be a major part of this. See you back around these parts, I hope.

Lenn Thompson | said...

Looking forward to reading about this my friend.

I've only recently started exploring non-nouveaus...but I've LOVED the ones that I've had...and I'm sure there are many others.

Joe said...

I do not think Beaujolais has been done properly - a worthy endeavor. Maybe I will attempt to mirror your work this summer, from time to time. In France right now - not a wine tour, but I should be in Champagne in a week. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

A fine time to try it with the 2005s on the shelves now...I enjoyed an unsulfured Dom. Joubert Brouilly this evening...

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Pals,
Cru Beaujolais has indeed been ignored, basically. Eric Asimov has written some nice things, but none of us seems to have bitten. And Dr. Vino is right - now is the time, as the 05s are pretty astounding wines, never mind how cheap they are.

Please join me in this!