Beaujolais

2022 Beaujolais Nouveau – as good as it gets!

By billn on November 08, 2022 #annual laurels#beaujolais#degustation

The 2022 vintage:

2022 Beaujolais NouveauThe 2021-2022 winter was long and, compared to most of the recent years, relatively cold. Frosts were commonplace until the beginning of April so probably because of that, budburst – in the second half of April – was relatively late. At this time, the domaines were already noting a lack of rain in the vineyards.

May was a warm and dry one: 50% less rainfall than normal plus more sunshine than usual – it was the warmest May on record since 1959.

The vines grew quickly and flowering took place in ideal, if early, conditions. Despite the dryness of May, there was sufficient rain in June to avoid issues with the vines even if the quantity of rainfall remained much below the average. It was in July that (not just!) the Beaujolais saw successive waves of hot weather – again lacking rain – it was the driest July for 33 years with 8mm of rain instead of an average of 68mm! This meant that the sanitary conditions of the vines couldn’t have been better.

The harvest was very early – from the middle of August! The hot weather had reduced the amount of malic acid in the grapes but concentrated the amount of tartaric acid. Despite a little more rain in the area of Beaujolais Villages, the wines were concentrated and volumes were modest, so unlike in 2020, it was rarely possible for domaines to ‘take advantage’ of the volumes on offer – so there is a consistency in the concentration and ripeness in these 2022s.
Many thanks to the team at Château du Moulin à Vent for some of their vintage insight.

The best wines:

I just hope that you have some chance to find such domaine wines. Last year my local (Swiss) coop had only one, which was bottled just for them – no producer info – and that was probably just as well because it was rubbish!

Whilst there were few ‘great wines’ in the equivalent tasting of 2021s, last year, those that were, clearly stood out from the crowd. In 2022 it was more difficult because the average quality was very consistent and as high as I have seen it – in this respect it reminds me very much of the 2019 vintage. From 100 wines there was one that was corked – the second bottle was fine – and only one wine where I directly said ‘NO!’ – I wouldn’t put this one in my mouth a second time!

Any complaints?
Actually, yes! Why so many heavy, statement, bottles? – ‘Prestigious cuvées?’ This is Beaujolais Nouveau for God’s sake. WTF!?

4 Great wines:
Dominique Piron: Beaujolais AND Beaujolais Villages
Domaine de Colette, Natur’Elle de Colette, Villages
Domaine des Nugues Villages

12 Excellent Wines – Beaujolais:
Jean Yves Sonnery
Anthony Charvet, Beaujo Beau
JM Aujoux, La vie est belle
Frédéric Berne
Domaine Perthuizet, Gégé
Trenel
Château de L’Eclair
Domaine des Prévellières
Julien Bertrand
Brossette Paul André et Fils
Agamy, Domaine du Solémy

8 Excellent Wines – Beaujolais Villages:
Château de Vaux De Vermont Yannick
Vignobles Jambon, Pure
Domaine Péchard Tano
David Berougon
Jean-Paul Dubost, Beaujolais Lantignié
Domaine du Clos du Fief
Château de Pougelon
Jean Yves Sonnery, Cuvée Elégance

Click on ‘Read More…’ below to see the full notes for 100 wines in the order that they were (blind) tasted:
Beaujolais
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2021 Beaujolais Nouveau – the ‘combative’ vintage

By billn on November 11, 2021 #annual laurels#beaujolais#degustation

2021 Beaujolais NouveauOr primeurs as the French, so often, refer to them. 100 wines, tasted blind in deepest Beaujolais, 02 November 2021:

– Inter Beaujolais – the marketing board for the Beaujolais region – describe the 2021 vintage as combative.

– 2021 was a complicated year in terms of both the weather conditions and the amount of work needed in the vines by the winegrowers. The second half of August and the month of September, however, made it possible to retain decent quality grapes, even if the quantity was reduced.

– Begun in mid-September, the harvest took place in rather cool conditions. This freshness, which characterised the end of the grapes’ ripening period, is visible in the wines.

– The wines in 2021 have moderation in mind – at least compared to the other recent vintages – they are lower in both alcohol and weight of phenolics – their tannic structure. The wines have been quite fairly described by Inter Beaujolais as ‘tender and fruity.

Overall, just over 100 samples were presented for this 2021 showing of Beaujolais Nouveau – which is a big drop from the number of samples (160+) proffered in recent vintages. Why? Simply, it was the 2021 harvest volumes; generally hit by frost at the start of the year and more locally in the south – where much Nouveau is produced – by some hail too. Whilst the official harvest volumes are not yet available, the harvest was generally down by about 25% – more in the south, less in the crus of the north – and that was the principal driver here.

I note that in this vintage the wines were showing much less ‘fruit-forward’ in style than their siblings in other recent vintages. I find a number of excellent wines but I have also noted many, many fewer ‘bravo’ wines than in other vintages – only 3 – but it would be remiss of me not to point out the very short timeline from harvest to my tasting glass this year – certainly much less elevage than was afforded to the earlier harvests of the previous 5-6 years.

2021 and the most recent vintages:

I’ve done this tasting since the 2017 vintage, and whilst the recent quality from Grower Nouveau has been on a much higher level than I can ever recollect – and with much more consistency too – 2021 is certainly a step back in terms of concentration, if not their acid-driven intensity – 2021 brings a lighter style which works much better with the Beaujolais Villages wines – 6-12 months of patience is not mandatory in this vintage. I have noted many fewer ‘Bravo!’ wines than in other tastings but there remain many excellent, quite delicious, wines:

Vintage 2017 – a warm, clean, early vintage – one hailstorm excepted – but low yielding. The best wines were excellent and the quality was consistent
Vintage 2018 – a warm clean and again an early vintage but with many higher-yielding places where the producers allowed. I observed significant quality differences in the samples – I largely attributed this to big swings in yields.
Vintage 2019 – another warm vintage with harvesting a little later but because of both frost and hail, yields were cut. The best wines were of high quality and the consistency was intermediate to 2017 and 2018.
Vintage 2020 – a warm clean vintage with consistently below-average yields. The best wines, once again, show high quality and a consistency that’s at least as good as seen in the 2017s. The wines are relatively powerful and well constructed, the ‘villages’ wines generally need a little patience but are consistently excellent – a vintage you can blind buy domaine wines!
Vintage 2021 – A vintage of frost, hail in places, and much lower yields – the cooler, wetter weather requiring more grape triage but this resulted in wines that are clean and attractive with good acidity – perhaps more elegantly proportioned than the most recent vintages with a stronger spine of acidity rather than tannin to support them.

Link to previous tastings. I like this tasting – not particularly for its length or nouveau specificity but rather because it’s quite an accurate snapshot of how, in general, the next vintage will show when released in another 6-12 months…

And in the order tasted, my ‘excellent wine‘ picks for this year?

Of course, all were tasted blind:
2021 Frederic Berne, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Collin-Bourisset, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘à ta cuvée à la con
2021 Vins Aujoux, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘Le Cochon Chic
2021 Père Benoit, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘Tchin
2021 Domaine de Solémy, Beaujolais Nouveau Vieilles-Vignes
2021 Jean Loron, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘Tradition Vielles-Vignes
2021 Famille Girin, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Domaine de Loyse – Cellier de St.Jean d’Ardières, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Château de Pizay, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Henry Fessy, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 P Ferraud et Fils, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Famille Chasselay, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘La Marduette

2021 P Ferraud et Fils, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
2021 Vignobles Jambon, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Pure
2021 Pierre Dupond, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Seconde Nature
2021 Château de l’Eclair, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
2021 Château de Chatelard, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Vintage
2021 Cave du Château des Loges, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Les Trois Madones, Sans Souffre
2021 Domaine de la Madone, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Pérréoneissime
2021 Domaine Burnichon, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
2021 Besson Père et Fils, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Tu m’fais tourner la tête
2021 Les Jeunes Pousses, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Préambule
2021 Château de Lavernette, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Le Jeune

And the medals for those lonely ‘Bravo!’ wines – the best of this tasting:
2021 Jean Loron, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘In Jules we Trust
2021 Manoir de Carra Sambardier, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau Vieilles-Vignes
2021 Manoir de Carra Sambardier, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Dame Nature

Here’s hoping that you can actually find some of these!

Click below to see the full notes for over 100 wines:

Beaujolais
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the sun has got his hat on – my last week in Beaujolais…

By billn on March 01, 2021 #beaujolais#travels in burgundy 2021

Côte de Brouilly 26 February 2021My Beaujolais visits are in the bag – and today, is my first visit to Beaune since 11 December – report writing and a large tasting. Not to mention airing the apartment and checking that the heat still works and no problems with the pipes!

My three weeks of Beaujolais visits started with snow and minus temperatures – midway through it plumbed the lowest temperature of the winter at home, minus 14°C, it was also as low as minus 9°C in the Beaujolais hills. Jump forward to last week, and the mercury was nudging 20° – like in each of the last 3 years in February – shorts and sunglasses weather for those out pruning. Because of this ‘heat,’ I bought less wine!

??? you ask. Well, I can’t keep it in a hot car all week – some of it had hardly a gram of sulfur…

I should say that I’ve bought quite a lot of 2019 Beaujolais – those cuvées which weren’t already sold out. I’m a very big fan of this vintage – which you will see when my report is published at the end of March…

Now – around here somewhere must also be some anecdotes of wines tasted at home in the last couple of weeks – let me have a look around and come back to you on that…

2020 Beaujolais Nouveau

By billn on November 12, 2020 #annual laurels#beaujolais

Beaujolais Nouveau 2020Or primeurs as the French, so often, refer to them. 162 wines, tasted blind in deepest Beaujolais, 04 November 2020:

2020 is the next in a series of warm vintages in the Beaujolais; it was frost-free in the Springtime and there was practically no hail in the Summer either. If there was to be one problem it was the dryness – some areas were described by locals as ‘being on the limit.

Yet when it came to the harvest they had good, clean, grapes – even those with quite high degrees of potential alcohol. The final figures are not yet available for the yields in 2020 but the current expectation is for volumes that are below the average due to the aforementioned dryness. If that turns out to be the case, I won’t be at all surprised.

2020 and the most recent vintages:

I’ve done this tasting since the 2017 vintage, and whilst the recent quality from Grower Nouveau is on a much, higher level than I can ever recollect – and with much more consistency too – it seems to me that yields go a long way to defining what you will find in a bottle of Nouveau.

I’m certain that it’s not particularly from the perspective of absolute quality that yields show themselves but rather from the perspective of the consistency of the observed quality where they play their role. Some people will always go to the maximum allowed – 65 hl/ha – whilst others are quite happy with 45 – or less:
Vintage 2017 – a warm, clean, early vintage – one hailstorm excepted – but low yielding. The best wines were excellent and the quality was consistent
Vintage 2018 – a warm clean and again an early vintage but with many higher-yielding places where the producers allowed. I observed significant quality differences in the samples – I largely attributed this to big swings in yields.
Vintage 2019 – another warm vintage with harvesting a little later but because of both frost and hail, yields were cut. The best wines were of high quality and the consistency was intermediate to 2017 and 2018.
Vintage 2020 – a warm clean vintage with consistently below-average yields. The best wines, once again, show high quality and a consistency that’s at least as good as seen in the 2017s. The wines are relatively powerful and well constructed, the ‘villages’ wines generally need a little patience but are consistently excellent! NB Given the early harvest in 2020, these wines have seen nearly an extra month of ageing – that’s 33% more! – than would be the case for a, more traditional, late-September harvest. In 2020 you can almost blind-buy Beaujolais-Villages-Nouveau as they are overwhelmingly excellent, less-so Beaujolais Nouveau but still with some confidence. Of course, if you don’t want to gamble, try the list further below.

And the market?

Of course, it’s a nightmare time to have an en-primeur campaign in ‘mid-lockdown’ but judging by the number of trucks on French roads, logistics still seem to be effective. It’s (still) a very important slice of the region’s sales for these primeurs – Japan representing the largest export market after the US, Canada, Switzerland and then the UK. About 46% of the production was exported from France in 2019, when Nouveau accounted for nearly 30% of all the sales from Beaujolais – about 21 million bottles – and that now includes 2 million bottles of rosé too!

So how are the wines? One week before the big day, here is my list of 21 goto wines from 162 tasted 04 November 2020:

2020 Beaujolais Nouveau:

2020 Fellot Emmanuel, Vieilles-Vignes
2020 Château de L’Eclair
2020 Coquard Christophe
2020 Famille Chasselay, La Marduette
2020 Jean Loron, Tradition Vieilles Vignes
2020 Domaine Girin
2020 Trenel
2020 Chandesais, Petit Marcel
2020 Domaine Perroud Robert, Vieilles-Vignes
2020 Les Vins Aujoux

2020 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau:

2020 Domaine Nesme Mickael
2020 Famille Chevrier
2020 Colonge André et Fils, N°1 Gasby Gamay
2020 Fessy Henry, Tradition
2020 Domaine Lagneau
2020 Domaine des Fournelles – Dumontet Guillaume
2020 Lacondemine Jérôme, Coeur de Raisin
2020 Domaine Monternot Les Jumeaux
2020 Dubost Jean Paul, Beaujolais Lantignié
2020 Cave du Château des Loges, Les Trois Madones
2020 Boudeau Nicolas

Click below to see the full notes for all 162 wines:
  Read more..

2018 Beaujolais – it’s where the value lies

By billn on March 23, 2020 #beaujolais#reports

Burgundy Report - 2018 BeaujolaisMost wine merchants are still making deliveries to self-isolators – so what are you going to drink at home?

If you’re looking at 2018s, then the value – and often the consistency of quality – is more often with Beaujolais than the Côte d’Or. So with that in mind:

Newly online is my February Report – 2018 Beaujolais.

62 domains, well over 400 new wines from an, often, great vintage. That’s now over 3,000 wines tasted from 260 domaines for the 2018 vintage reports of October 2019 to February 2020, and in each case with vintage commentary from their winemakers.

Now, who’s going to be the first to buy my mixed case recommendation? – That’ll keep you perky at home!

beaujolais visits week 08 of 2020

By billn on February 22, 2020 #beaujolais#travels in burgundy 2020

Beaujolais 2020 visits 3

My third of three weeks of visits – so over 60 domaines’ wines tasted from (predominantly) the 2018 vintage. Next week starts all the typing – online in a little over a month!

Thanks to all the domaines!

2019 Beaujolais Nouveau

By billn on November 13, 2019 #annual laurels#beaujolais

160 wines blind-tasted in Beaujolais, 05 November 2019.

Of course, 2019 was another in the series, the trilogy, of warm years – but one with instances of frost. More drastic than the frost was a late-arriving hailstorm that on the 20th of August swept through the south of Beaujolais, cutting yields – in some cases drastically. The average losses were minus 30% – but it was Beaujolais-Villages where the most was lost, hence, the volume of ‘Nouveau de Garde’ has been significantly reduced this year.

I’ve previously laughed out load about the concept of Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau – Nouveau that you can cellar – so I will not bore you about that, not this time!

This year I embarked on a 160 wine gamayathon; I was certainly tired at the end, fortunately not emotional though! This year we even had 8 Nouveau of a different colour – rosé… That’s up from the 3 from last year that I didn’t taste(!) At this rate of growth we will have 20 in 2020!

What to expect and what’s really worth buying

So three quite hot years, generally that’s beneficial to the quality, but with three different results:
2017 – low yielding and probably because of that a really high quality in both the Nouveau and the Villages Nouveau
2018 – less low yielding, and that was the crux. Basic Nouveau was much more variable but the Villages Nouveau was more consistent
2019 – because of frost and hail, yields were cut, and for the consumer that has once more brought consistency and quality to the basic Nouveau category due to lower yields. I think only twice did I instantly say ‘No!’ and run from a particular wine. As for the Villages Nouveau – here was overwhelmingly more concentration and particularly intensity – the intensity of acidity – probably okay if you wish to cellar your Nouveau for 6-12 months, but I was looking for the balance for drinking now, and from this tasting that was relatively rare. As for the rosé wines – super, all of them – really a great source of easy, delicious drinking for the next weeks – or even longer – why not? Read more..

2018 Beaujolais Nouveau

By billn on November 13, 2018 #beaujolais


 Image: Courtesy ‘InterBeaujolais’

2018, in general, was the continuation of 2017; an early harvest. The Beaujolais grapes had super maturity, and no blockage to their maturity was reported despite 4 very dry months before the harvest. ‘Fermentations went really very fast in most places. A richness of sugar was apparent – unsurprising giving indications of 14° – yet still with a fresh side,‘ was the basic description given to me by a local vigneron

That’s the basic version of-course, but as we will see, here at the lowest level of the Beaujolais hierarchy, in practice not all is sweetness and light.

Last year was the first time that I had sat down to evaluate ‘Nouveau‘ and I was, frankly, amazed at the quality of the wines that were set before me – even more-so the new (to me) appellation of Beaujolais Villages Nouveau. This year 122 samples were arranged for me to blind taste vs 142 last year – Is that the volume at harvest or is the market for these bottles sufficiently strong that journalistic samples are less necessary? – Hard to say, I don’t think the market is growing – even with great vintages like 2017 and (supposedly) 2018 in succession. In 2017, “A roughly similar number of bottles of Nouveau were sold – 24 million*” – I noted 25.2 million last year – with half of that quantity exported from France – you can see the main countries in the graphic (courtesy Interbeaujolais) below:


2017 sales volumes in hectolitres (Hl) – from *InterBeaujolias

From the 122 wines I chose 20 exceptional wines:
 

The best Beaujolais Nouveau:

From 65 wines tasted I found many that were excellent, and some not that good, the quality was certainly more variable than was the case for the 2017s, some quite astringent and herbal wines were presented that lacked full maturity. But here are 8 that I unreservedly recommend:

Château de L’éclair
Tighter but deep, saline. Hmm, beautiful texture, direct, melting, intense flavour – ooh this is great! Super finishing – Bravo.
Collin Bourisset, Non Filtré
Boof – deep colour. Complex, plenty of freshness too. Concentration but always fresh, more structure, more tannin – depth of flavour – a BJN to wait for but it’s excellent! Bravo!
Domaine de la Revol Debourg CB et T
Red wax topped. A herby-saline, fruit mix – actually very inviting. Fresh – a shape and structure like a red Chablis! Lots of energy and tiny points of complexity – I find this excellent and the finish is even better! Non-standard but for me, fabulous. Bravo.
Domaine Forétal
Tight below but fine fresh interest to the higher aromas. Volume, good texture more energy and with flavour-complexity attached – this is mobile, and super over the tongue – excellent – the finish complex and involving – bravo!
Collin Bourisset, Nature
Hmm – freshness and very fine aromatic complexity – a lovely invitation. A hint of gas. Depth and concentration plus drive to this well-textured, impressive wine. A super finish – Bravo!
Ferraud et Fils
Hmm, another very fine nose with both width and depth of admirably fine dark fruit. A touch of gas again. Lots of energy and mouth-filling volume. Complexity of good flavour too. Super, mouth-watering finishing flavour – bravo!
Berthier Pascal, Vieilles-Vignes
Fine, beautiful, dark fruit and flowers. Silky entry, , concentrated wine, you leave this in the cellar for some time. Delicious and bravo.
O.Coquard, Nature
Deep colour. Pretty, fresh, dark-fruit notes – very attractive. Supple, depth of concentration. A modest depth of non-astringent tannin – serious wine with a purity of mid and finishing flavour. Will last for years – bravo!

The best Beaujolais Villages Nouveau:

From 57 wines I found 12 that I could unreservedly recommend, but there are many more excellent wines in this much higher quality and significantly less variable selection (see later):

Trenel, Bio
Hmm, a depth of complex, cushioned, ripe-fruited deliciousness of aroma – yes! Round, supple, concentrated yet at the same time still transparent, wide and beautifully packaged . Bravo directly – not many of the last 65 could match this!
Lardy Lucien, Vignes de 1951
Hmm, a slightly muffled nose – big but – a slightly reduced, aeration brings more semblance and better definition to the aroma – it’s becoming ever-more attractive. Supple but fresh and concentrated. Lots of fresh complexity here with an admirable purity of fruit – this will be fabulous – it’s actually almost fabulous already today – bravo!
Domaine des Combiers Savoye Laurent
Fresh, wide, a little saline, slowly augmenting with florals. A wide, faintly astringent edge to the flavours but with such great depth and complexity of fruit flavour – ooh this is so good here in the middle. Long, layered – really great – bravo!
Domaine Nesme Mickael
Lots of colour. The nose is narrow and inky yet with a really attractive delivery. Supple, beautiful combination of texture plus depth of flavour. Ooh this is such a delicious wine with a great finish – bravo!
De Vermont Yannick
Deep colour. Hmm – I’ve been waiting a few wines, but here we are back to a very attractive nose with volume of pure, dark, fruit and plenty of saline and floral accents – lovely. Hmm – sleek, impressive, a little licorice. Bravo – will replay patience too.
Domaine du Clos du Ffief Tête Michel et Sylvain, Vieilles-Vignes
Red wax, sommelier bottle.
A pretty nose – wide, airy, fine fruit, though much more modest depth. Lots of very fine tannin, only a suggestion of astringency – really a depth of flavour – so much concentration. Rounder low sulfur style of fruit but simply a super wine – bravo!
Château de Vaux De Vermont Yannick
Very dark coloured. A nose that’s fresh, seemingly pure but also rather tight. Even more mouth-filling volume, some astringency, but layers of relaxed, pure, dark-fruited flavour. Bravo!
Manoir du Carra Sambardier, Dame Nature
Deep colour. Fresh and wide, slightly saline nose – inky but rather tight above and below the width. Hmm – this is fresh, beautifully textured wave – almost a wall of flavour. Almost supple, vibrant, full of complexity – ooh this will be great – bravo!
Château de L’éclair, L 18403
Hmm a weight of width to the fruit on the nose. Supple, weighty, growing intensity with lots of concentration – this is excellent. Long, with waves of fine finishing fruit – bravo!
Domaine de Rochemure Vermorel Philippe
Dark colour – very dark! A little fresh black licorice, some freshness and pepper, and an implication of silky black fruit below – but only an implication. Fresh but mouth-filling volume, very fine tannin, lots of modest energy, complex, fine flavour. Small waves of flavour that leach from the palate in the finish. A wine that just keeps getting better in the glass – for that I have to say – Bravo!
Trenel
A fresh, narrow, deep but pure nose – I really like the clarity with which the fruit is delivered. Good volume, melting, a touch of cushioning to the flavour. Little waves of bright finishing fruit flavour too – sweet gooseberry – which you sometimes find in Musigny! Bravo!
Jambon Guénael, Cuvée Nature
Sommelier bottle – grey-wax topped – you don’t see many of those.
Fresh, wide, a little pepper over a depth of sweet, dark fruit. More direct than many, very fine texture, melting freshness without too much strident intensity. I think very composed is the best description. Long, very tasty finishing. I would keep this – it’s great- bravo!

Click below to see notes for the remaining 102 wines: Read more..

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