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.
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.
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):
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!
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..