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!
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..

2017 Beaujolais Nouveau

By billn on November 14, 2017 #beaujolais

Tasted courtesy of Interbeaujolais in Villefranche, 02 November 2017

Thursday is 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau day – here are 142 wines blind-tasted for you…

For almost as long as I can remember, I always find myself a glass to drink on that day – but one is typically enough!

Whatever you might think about the waning importance of Beaujolais Nouveau, in 2016, 25.2 million bottles of the stuff were sold. Outside of France, the largest markets are Japan, followed by the United States and Canada.

But despite the contraction in sales over (at least) the last 10 years, the region still hasn’t given up on this label. In an effort to improve the image of their wines, the producers have reduced their focus on crazy races to deliver bottles of dubious quality to restaurants of dubious quality, rather deciding to make the wines better – who would have thought of that? But on the other hand they have, at the same time, made your choice more complicated – today there isn’t just one Beaujolais Nouveau, there are two – there is also the higher classification of Beaujolais Villages Nouveau!

Just so that you don’t have to (but feel free!), I tasted through 142 Nouveaux on the 2nd of November – 77 Beaujolais Nouveau (BJN) and 65 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (BJVN). From the large first group of BJN, I picked out for you 9 absolutely delicious wines, and from the BJVNs I picked out 15 – but that was harder work, and here there is an additional complication: By and large the BJVN are more concentrated, more tannic and generally not for drinking on Thursday – you should probably wait at least 12 months for most of them to start drinking well! This rather begs the question, what are they for then? Discussing a with a fellow taster – writing for Bettane & Desseauve – it seems that this question, whilst entirely reasonable to me, is a very Anglo-Saxon question!

The French, it seems, don’t just drink BJN (or BJVN!) on the third Thursday in November. They visit a shop, select a BJN (or BJVN!), they buy a case, they drink one or two bottles on the third Thursday of November and then drink the rest over the next 12 months – until it’s time to start all over again. It seems, that in French eyes (at least) that drinking this wine on only one day per year, is particularly Anglo-Saxon – so whilst we might struggle with the concept (or utility) of a BJN (or BJVN!) de garde – that’s just our problem!

2017 with its warm and friendly vintage conditions – one hailstorm excepted – has provided wine of delicious ripeness and good character. The quality is generally high with many more ‘hits’ than ‘misses’ – nearly 20% I recommend highly, but 10% of the wines I wouldn’t want to take a second glass…

Anyway, all the following wines were tasted blind, I later mated the list of names my numbered tasting-notes, picking out those that I could highly recommend. The highly recommended wines follow directly. My favourite wine of the whole tasting being the wine (the BJVN wine!) of Maison Trenel – highlighted in that list.

9 selected Beaujolais Nouveaux, from 77 wines tasted:

Château de L’Eclair, L 16401
Nose is super. Bright fresh delicious – this is really excellent – can it be so easy?!

Duboeuf Georges
Big, bright delicious nose. Lots of flavour, a little gas, but very tasty – yes! A great finish too.

Deep, mineral, dark fruit – nice. Again gas. Layers of flavour – great flavour here. Super!

Paris Christophe
This is a deep and attractive nose. Supple, nice texture, great finishing flavour too!

Perroud Robert, Nature
A heavy bottle. Very deep. Direct, linear, only slowly giving up its melting flavours. Superior wine here with a fine finish – yes!

Fellot Emmanuel, Vieilles Vignes
A concentrated nose of depth. Supple, great weight but fresh too. Mouth-watering flavour – more tannin than the last. A great finish – Yes!

Château de la Valette – Crespin Jean Pierre
Depth but slightly tight nose. Fresh, lovely mid-palate energy – hmm – not many like this. Yes!

Oedoria, Coeur D’Automne
Hmm – nice – open, complex and attractive nose. Lots of distinction in the flavour here – complex and delicious.

Olivier Coquard, Nature
Tight nose. Open and attractive, complex, fresh palate. Lots to find here – this is super!

15 selected Beaujolais Villages Nouveaux, from 66 wines tasted:

Collin Bourisset, Cuvée à la Con
Modest depth but an attractive width of dark and fresh fruit. Good volume, layered fresh fruit. Late arriving sucrosity and fine intensity. A lovely finish. Excellent!

de Vermont Yannick
Deep, complex, fresh – interesting! Volume, complexity – ooh – this is good! Excellent!

Gelin Gilles, Le Vin des Copains
A tight-ish but highly attractive nose of pure dark fruit. Lots of structure and some astringence of tannin. This is a wine to wait at least a year for but it is simply super wine.

Domaine Joncy, La Trad’Nature
Red wax topped. Wide and quite floral with an easy fruit I the middle. On the plate the texture is very silky, the flavours are quite individual but very floral and enticing. Delicious despite the young impression. Super!

Tête Louis
Nice, quite open and with good depth. In the mouth, plenty of dimension and complexity – this is very fine and a little saline too.

Domaine de la Milleranche – Corsin J et Roussot S, Anima Vinum
An inky-deep nose. Wide, fresh some decent intensity here. Layers of finishing flavour – very young finishing flavour! To wait for but with super material and more than a touch of finishing tannin

Lacondemine Jérôme, Coeur de raisin
Ooh – deep, floral – very lovely! Fresh, faintly mineral, lots of complexity. Great but painfully young wine. Superb

Jambon Dominique
A wide and fresh nose – highly attractive. Plenty of fresh volume. Slowly the waves of flavour wash over the palate. Really a great finish!

Lafont Jean Marc, Cuvée Centenaire
Also inky-deep but something very attractive and high-toned escapes the glass too. Supple, über-concentrated, layered flavour. Wait 3-5 years – no joke. Super wine!

Dumas Pierre André, Cuvée vinifiée par Aurélie Durnerin
Deep colour. Super concentrated nose with some modest high-tones escaping – attractive. Too much gas but so much energy and complexity. Super wine, delicious wine…

Ooh a very lovely floral top note here – quite distinctive. Fresh, vigorous and delicious. There is depth and great interest for me here – this could be the best wine of the day…

Ferraud P et Fils
A tighter nose but of some saline interest. Really a lot of volume here, but the mouth-watering flavour cuts through the young tannin. Fine fresh fruit – excellent!

Château de la Grand’Grange, Vieilles Vignes
Nice fresh fruit on this nose – dark fruit – lovely. Supple, concentrated, layered flavour. Long. Super wine – nearly as good as #53…

Domaine de Colette – Gauthier Jacky
Plenty of volume and fresh aromatic complexity. Big, depth of flavour. Nice texture. Waves of fine finishing flavour. Another top wine…

Chatelus Pascal
Bottle 1 corked – the only one of the tasting. Here bottle 2. Deep nose that’s tight above, more open below. Supple and concentrated. Layers of great flavour – this is excellent…

The Beaujolais Nouveau wines…

142 samples in on day, and it wouldn’t really have been possible to make a comprehensive note on every wine, so I chose to make my normal shorthand notation – Would I buy? Yes, Maybe or No – but of-course with a few words for each wine too. So, in the order tasted (blind), first the Beaujolais Nouveau, and then the Beaujolais Villages Nouveau:

Collin Bourisset, Le Beaujolais Nouveau Terra Vitis Maybe
Darker more reductive nose, deeper, a little more savoury. Still good

Vignerons des Pierres Dorées, La Rose Pourpre Yes
Tighter nose, More direct, saline, a little more serious. Very good.

Domaine Girin Maybe
Tighter nose again, more acid forward, a little less sucrosity.

Domaine du Guélet Puillat Christine et Didier Yes
A tight but pretty nose – lithe, fresh, good length. Nice finish, saline…

Domaine de Roche Cattin Devay Jean Gabriel Yes
Lighter colour. Faint nose. Open, pretty, easy wine – different but tasty

Fessy Henry, Selection Henry Fessy Yes
A little more open nose – nice. Volume and fresh, faint astringence but lots of energy – good.

Domaine des Terres Dorées Brun Jean Paul L’Ancien Maybe
Big, deep nose. A little savoury flavour – lots of depth, impressive but I’m not the biggest fan of the flavour profile

Collin Bourisset, Nature Maybe
Deep colour. Modest intensity but good nose. Lots of energy some astringence. Needs time!

Domaine Flache Sornay Yes
A little lighter. Some mineral freshness. Good, great finish

Ferraud P et Fils Maybe
Tighter but fine nose. Lots of freshness, some tannin, long – another bjn du garde

Gelin Gilles, Sans Soufre No
Modest aromas but faint flowers. Good volume, plenty of finishing extract. Didn’t like the finishing flavour though

Perol Anthony, Pierres Dorées Yes
Modest, round and fresh. Direct, fresh, nice finishing, lip-smacking tannin.

Dupond Pierre, Non Filtré Yes
Deep colour. Tight nose. Supple, concentrated, only modestly sweet. Delicious finish!

Domaine de L’Anthocyane – Dumas Sylvie et Stéphane Yes
Modest but fine nose. Fresh, lithe, some concentration, flavour only slowly opening but very tasty

Domaine de Forétal – Perraud Jean Yves Yes
Pretty red fruit nose. Good concentration, a growing weight of flavour – you should wait!

Ferraud P et Fils, Cuvée d’Autrefois Yes
Deeper colour. Tight but fine and deep nose. Weight but energy. Very good.

Domaine des Terres Dorées – Brun Jean Paul, Cuvée Première Maybe
Modest nose. Bright and fresh. A little green astringence but the finish is good.

Château de Nervers Maybe
Deeper colour. Deep nose. Layers of flavour, dark fruit, the finish is the best part.

Collin Bourisset Yes
Darker colour. Classic deep fruit and bubblegum. A little gas, sleek and fresh, Lip-smacking. To wait for!

Domaine du Charveron No
A deep and interesting nose. The palate flavour is wide but a little diffuse, almost banana and I don’t like banana…

Viland Antoine, Coteaux de la Roche Yes
Pretty and open nose. Good in the mouth – not the most energetic but very tasty wine. A great finish

Club des Sommeliers Yes
Modest but attractive nose. Round, nice acidity, cushioned texture. Fine

Fessy Henry Maybe
Modest, with spice. Cooler temp. Some gas. The last flavour is good.

Chermette Pierre Marie, Origine Vieilles Vignes Maybe
Wide, not so deep nose. Volume, the palate has a little savoury aspect. The finish the best part – here I like it.

Collin Bourisset, Nouveau Non Filtré Maybe
Deeper colour. Fresh, modest nose. Supple, weighty, BJN du garde, but I’m not sure it’s so tasty…

Maison Jean Loron, Vin Nature Maybe
Deep colour. Lots of gas. The flavour that eventually comes is good – but not an easy wine.

Labouré Roi Yes
Broad but not the most attractive nose. Lots of gas, but sweet and pretty flavour. The finish is fine – it would be so much better with less gas…

Trenel Yes
Modest but faintly floral nose. Wide, decent energy. The finish is good, indeed lovely…

Domaine de L’Anthocyane – Dumas Sylvie et Stéphane, Cuve 3 Yes
Deep nose, inky… Again too much gas, but the finishing flavour is fine

Domaine Chatelus, Cuve N° 2 Maybe
Nice nose and some volume. Wide, open flavour – not the best but okay.

Maison Loron Jean, Tradition Vieilles Vignes Maybe
Deep colour. Depth of aroma. Direct, fresh, good intensity. The flavour is modest right up to the finish where it becomes quite good – BJN du garde.

Domaine de la Couvette, Bio Maybe
Pyrazine nose. Wide, open, interesting on the palate – I like this in the finish though there’s still some pyrazine…

Domaine des Marrans Mélinand No
Not the most attractive nose – acetic a little. Layered and with decent energy. Only the last part if the finish is tasty for me.

Oedoria, Les Pierres Dorées Maybe
A more modest nose. Fine in the mouth, not the broadest flavours but okay.

Pardon et Fils Yes
Tight nose. Fresh, flavour expanding over the palate. Good flavour, getting better all the time.

Brossette et Fils, Empreinte Yes
Modest nose. The palate has great volume and good freshness – the flavour only arrives late, but good flavour. Delicious finish.

Château de L’Eclair, L 16402 Yes
A deep, dark, part saline nose. Wide, complex, interesting flavour a great finish – a little bubblegum but still fine.

Domaine Dumas – Pierre André Yes
Deep colour. Gas, wide and fresh with energy. The finishing flavour is fine.

Lafont Jean Marc, Ephémère Yes
A tighter nose. Wide, slowly growing flavour. Getting better and better as you head to the finish.

Domaine Gaget, Les Galets Maybe
Lighter colour. High toned, different. Again good volume. Great finish – not sure in the middle.

Duperray Jean Baptiste, Grains de Gamay Vieilles Vignes Yes
Deep, almost blackberry nose. Supple, complex, and long.

Domaine du Champ de la Croix Roche Benoit Yes
Good aromatic volume – interesting dark fruit. Wide, good texture and depth of flavour, slightly saline accent. Good, very!

Vincent Cédric, L’Audace des Pierres Dorées Yes
Heavy bottle alert! Complex and open nose. Good volume, complex flavour – particularly in the finish. Fine!

Chermette Pierre Marie, Griottes Yes
A deep nose, perhaps a pyrazine accent. Direct, indeed narrow, long and lingering good flavour. Different!

Domaine de Baluce Sonnery – Jean Yves Annick Yes
Deep, open, complex and classic. Supple, wide and with fine mouth-watering flavours.

Grands Vins Sélection Yes
Back to a more modest aromatic. Direct, a little saline, only slowly widening but getting better all the time – the finish is super

Domaine de Gry Sablon – Morel Dominique Yes
Some depth of aroma, but modest. Wide, open tasty wine.

Domaine de Champ Fleury – Coquard Pierre et Fils No
Less attractive nose. Gas, in the finish it’s getting better

Domaine de la Ricottière – Troncy Annie et Jean Marc Yes
Deep but tight nose. Supple, fine texture, growing flavour. Very good!

Domaine Joncy No
A little roast dark fruit. Wide, flavour like the nose. Not my favourite flavour style…

Château de Pougelon No
Deep colour. Nice nose. Too gassy. The flavour is okay if you’ve enough time for the gas to depart…

Tête Louis, Le Pot Yes
White, screw-cap bottle. Open and interesting nose. The palate is supple, easy and tasty. The finish is good.

Domaine Romy, Le Mouflet No
A modest but attractive and slightly saline nose. Open fresh, modest depth of flavour vs the volume. The finish with some tannin.

Vignerons des Pierres Dorées, Terra Iconia Bio No
Deep, a hint of pyrazine. Fresh, perhaps a little less ripe. Plenty of astringence.

Cave de la Couvette Maybe
Plenty of pyrazine on this open nose. A little on the palate too. The last part of the finish is fine and tasty though.

Domaine Chatelus, Cuve N° 1 No
A nice depth to the nose. The palate is very fresh, cool fruit and a little astringent. Only at the very end is there something tasty though.

Vignerons des Pierres Dorées, Terra Iconia No
Reductive – more than a little stinky. Some reduction on the palate too – Right at the end this is very nice – but the start is no fun.

Manoir du Carra – Famille Sambardier Yes
Also a hint of reduction. Supple, good volume, saline flavour. To wait for but good stuff.

Domaine de la Revol – Famille Debourg Maybe
Tighter but fresh and interesting. Some volume and a freshness of flavour – very modest flavour – but long.

Martin Pierre, Les Vignes du Père Martin Maybe
Tight nose – implying some depth. Fresh and lots of volume. A little mineral and slowly lingering flavour. To wait for.

Domaine du Perchoir – Mandrillon Manu Yes
A little reductive. The flavour is fresh, energetic and a little mineral. Fine finishing through a little structure – I like the clarity!

Berthier Pascal, Sélection Vieilles Vignes Yes
Another heavy bottle. Not so open but a nice depth and freshness to the nose. Supple, nice texture, layers of flavour. We’re in a good series here. Lingering, baby wine, to wait for.

Dupré Jean Michel, Vignes de 1911 Yes
Red wax topped. Not a deep colour. Open and half floral, half melon nose. Open on the palate too – easy but delicious flavours with a little melting flavour in the finish…

Domaine des Générations – Collonge Fabien, Vieilles Vignes Yes
Not the most overt but an inviting nose. Less sucrosity, but a growing and attractive flavour – good!

Chambard Alain, Vieilles Vignes Yes
Modest but attractive nose. Wide, a little salinity, slowly expanding flavour. Tasty wine..

Dupré Jean Michel Maybe
Heavy, different shape bottle – like a Richebourg! Fresh with pyrazines. Narrower but fresh, almost mineral. Floral and pyrazine to finish. Tasty in its style.

Olivier Coquard, Culotte de velours Yes
Another Richebourg bottle. A tight nose. Long, narrow shape, slowly melting flavour. Eventually a fine finish. Painfully young but super

Olivier Coquard Yes
Deep colour. A modest but attractive depth of aroma. Decent volume. Slowly growing and very attractive flavour – not the most energy but really a very attractive and long wine.

It’s quite impressive the variability of the wines given the single cepage and the fast approach to vinification – diversity is good I think in general terms – though for wines drunk in one week per year, it’s rare to see diversity such as this…

The Beaujolais Villages Nouveau wines…

There is directly another level of volume and concentration in these wines – indeed it’s hard to contemplate drinking these at all in 2 week’s time – but there are significant differences in deliciousness all the same. The freshness of the dark fruit is an easy differentiator. Whilst there is more to recommend here than in the BJN section, I would say the the highs are higher and lows are lower – simply some wines were undrinkably reduced. This didn’t seem as much of a problem for my French colleague as he doesn’t see these as wines all to be drunk this week – but in the Anglo-Saxon concept of ‘Nouveau Day’ these wines were not drinkable – you could try a carafe or vigorous shake to dislodge the reduction, but if there’s also some gas (CO2) trapped in the bottle, be very careful not to make a new piece of Jackson Pollock artwork on your kitchen wall…

Collin Bourisset Yes
Deep colour. Impressive, fresh, concentrated nose. Ooh – this is impressive – concentration such as this begs a little patience – no? Super stuff.

Domaine du Barvy – Bouillard Dominique Maybe
A little forced impression to this nose. Supple, concentrated – impressive still but certainly less delicious vs the last.

Maison Dupond Domaine de Boischampt Yes
Deep, inky deep nose. Full, round, energetic – like the first hard to think of drinking this already!

Maison Jambon, By Jambon Yes
Deep, hinting towards roast fruit. Volume and concentration, only in the finish is this really delicious – but it is indeed REALLY delicious.

Dupré Jean Michel, Vignes de 1940 Yes
A heavy bottle – but not the profundity of colour to match. Open, pretty, inviting nose. Round, supple, plenty of tannin but lots of good flavour too. Waves of finishing flavour. Excellent!

Manoir du Carra Sambardier, Dame Nature No
A wide, not deep, faintly toasted bread nose. Concentrated flavour – great weight and texture – today not fully attractive flavour.

Chambard Alain, Vieilles Vignes Yes
A round, slightly toasty reduction to the nose. Supple, great texture. Layers of flavour. Not the most energy here, but supple, and super. I love the finish

Domaine des Arbins – Lathuilière Annie et Franck Maybe
A little forced fruit. Open, very fresh, full of flavour, a little reductive(?) Super sucrosity in the finish flavour – here it’s very nice.

Hirsch Céline et Nicolas Yes
A ‘white’ Bordeaux style bottle. Good volume, plenty of freshness. Tasty fruit too. Great texture here – excellent. The finish too!

Maison Dupond, Cuvée Nature Yes
Deep colour. Inky aromatic depth. Wide, a little gas – good energy to the flavours (gas!) Nice finishing.

Domaine du Guélet – Puillat Christine et Didier Yes
Tight nose – a hint of toasty reduction. Sleek, fresh, a hint of tannin astringency. Fine fruit though – like most here – you should have a little patience!

Manoir du Carra Sambardier, Vieilles Vignes No
Deep colour. A little too reductive. The palate too – fine structure and weight, but not tasty given the reduction…

Domaine Jomain Bernard, Les Artistes Maybe
More modest colour and some pyrazine on the nose. More modest weight but fine and open, almost floral.

Domaine de Rochemure – Vermorel Philippe, Les Devants Yes
A concentrated nose. Big in the mouth too – not really a great interest in the middle but the finish is super and this is a wine to wait for.

Fellot Emmanuel, Non Filtré Yes
A subtle reduction but it doesn’t take the shine of the higher tones. More reductive on the plate – but layered and with good texture – great finishing width too.

Lardy Lucien, Vignes de 1951 Yes
Open higher toned fruit. Fresh with good volume. Really attractive flavour mixed with structure that says wait – super.

Duboeuf Georges Yes
Deeper colour. A relatively tight but inviting nose. Supple, really a little too much gas. The mid and finishing flavours are excellent…

Domaine du Clos du Fief – Tête Michel, Vieilles Vignes No
A massive Richebourg bottle. The nose faintly floral with a modestly reductive depth. Much more reductive on the palate – hard to discern flavour here…

Domaime Versant du Soleil Maybe
Deeper colour. Fresh, more direct, less sucrosity – but it builds in the finish though – the finish is very fine – the start of the wine is ‘in progress’

Domaine du Clos du Fief – Tête Michel et Sylvain No
Darker colour. Faint reduction. Lots of reduction on the palate – I can’t say much here – only the finish is more in view and it’s a good one…

Manoir du Carra Sambardier, Parcelle 505 Vieilles Vignes Yes
Nice aromatic volume and fresh complexity. In the mouth fine dimension of complexity and a little salinity. This is super wine – wait 2 years!

Oedoria, Les Granits Yes
A very tight nose but with a little florality that escapes. Fine width and depth of flavour. Very good.

Domaine des Nugues – Gelin Gilles Yes
Aromatic freshness, more modest depth. A hint of reduction but really a fine concentration of flavour. A decent finish too.

Domaine Béroujon Yes
Deep and delicious impression to the nose. A little gas. Fine fruit and complexity – the gas is a shame today – I might have given this a top note…

Duperray Jean Baptiste, Non Filtré Maybe
Deep and faintly reductive. Good volume and fresh density but the flavours are reductive. Behind is a very good finish though – with plenty of tannin.

Domaine de la Plaigne – Famille Roux Yes
Hmm – this is a very nice nose. A little gas but open and with friendly complexity. Compared to many rather an easy wine – but easy to appreciate too!

Domaine Gaget, Vinum Memoria Yes
A Richebourg bottle. A big nose – open, faint flowers, pyrazine, maybe a touch of reduction too – everything! Such complexity on the palate too – super! There is a lot of wine here and as many, to wait for…

Château de L’Eclair Yes
A little tighter aromas – a faint salinity only. Good volume. Plenty of structure – complex, saline and again to wait for.

Mommessin Yes
A deep, inky, sweet fruited nose. Too much gas. Plenty of tannin, but the flavour in the middle has fine clarity and freshness. Patience!

Domaine Monternot Les Jumeaux Yes
Round nose. Supple, good energy and plenty of flavour distinction. Good width and an impressive length.

Cave de Clochemerle No
Plenty of aromatic depth but a hint of reduction. The reduction is rather central to the flavours too. Saline, concentrated and long though.

Rottiers Richard Yes
Higher tones red fruit here. Full, lots of volume, lots of tannin too – but super-fine. Excellent wine to wait for…

Domaine de la Milleranche – Corsin J et Roussot S Yes
A deep but rather tight nose. Lots of volume in the mouth, plenty of structure too – missing just a little deliciousness of fruit – but such a young thing. The finish is lovely though…

Club des Sommeliers Yes
Also a tight nose. Lots of volume on the palate, the flavour almost a little mineral – then the finish is excellent and with lots of dimension – oh and tannin!

Domaine Joncy Maybe
High-toned, slightly forced nose. Direct, lots of concentration and fruit that is redolent of the nose. So much wine, and attractively finishing too.

Domaine de Bel Air – Lafont Jean Marc Yes
A hint of pyrazine but also plenty of attractively floral references too. Fresh, good volume, sucrosity to the flavour. Layers of lovely finishing flavour too. Very tasty…

Domaine de Haute Molière – Patissier Jean Francois, L’Etourdi Yes
Lots of depth with attractive top notes. Fresh, growing intensity, layers of finishing flavour and freshness. Very tasty to finish.

Dumas Pierre André Yes
Ooh – that’s a deep colour. But the aromas are not forced, though it’s a little tight. Some gas. Energy and complexity. Finishing tannin. Long if with modest intensity.

Domaine de Croifolie – Crozet Gérard Yes
Deep but some attractive top notes. Supple – wide and with growing concentration. Lingering flavour.

Paris Christophe Yes
Here is a nice and open aromatic complexity. Big in the mouth, a little saline. Slowly lingering waves of flavour. Young wine of great potential.

Pardon et Fils Yes
A nose of some width but not much depth today – only modestly attractive. Supple, layered and delicious on the palate though. Lovely and intense finishing – attend!

Labouré Roi Yes
Again a little inkiness to the depth of aroma. Some gas, slowly opening with good volume and plenty of tannin. The last flavours are fine and herald a lovely wine in another 2 years…

Domaine de Thulon – Famille Jambon No
Rather a modest nose. Plenty of volume, modest distinction of flavour – some salinity. Only okay in this context.

Domaine de Rochemure – Vermorel Philippe, Non Filtré Sans Soufre Maybe
Deep colour. Some reduction to the nose. Big in the mouth with fine tannin – a good texture. Modest reduction here too – but not bad. Good finishing flavour with some bubble-gum impression

Dufour Patrick – Domaine Coteaux des Oliviers Yes
A little tight but still a highly attractive nose. Supple, concentrated young wine with plenty of tannin. Excellent

Domaine Burnichon Yes
Very deep colour. The aromas are tight if pure and fresh. A little too much gas. Fine volume and good texture. A concentrated wine with good energy and purity of flavour. I love the finish

Fessy Henry, Tradition Yes
Good aromatic freshness. Fine volume, and plenty of structure. Good sucrosity that slowly grows. Nice finishing. Very good.

Domaine Longere Maybe
Deep, tight, it seems a slightly forced nose. Lots of volume, the flavour has a transparent quality to it – but good freshness here.

Fessy Henry Yes
The nose has a hint of salinity. Concentrated, width of flavour perspective, lots of finishing intensity that seeps through the structure. Long on a modest intensity.

Cave du Château de Chenas Yes
Deep and quite attractive. Wide, plenty of flavour complexity nice width and relatively tasty – you wine to wait for like many…

the beaujolais express…

By billn on June 09, 2017 #beaujolais#travel


London to Lyon – by Eurostar train – no sweat! Less than 5 hours – you can wait longer than that in the airport! There’s no excuse now for the London wine-trade 😉

über-niche beaujolais – jules desjourneys

By billn on May 10, 2017 #beaujolais#degustation

A nice way to ‘recover’ after a week without tasting, due to a head-cold:

While the vast majority of Beaujolais struggles to get €10 a bottle for their produce, I have in my hands two bottles that have been sent to me from a producer that is really pushing the pricing envelope. A Fleurie and a Moulin à Vent – both 2014s with yields of 20 hectolitres per hectare – or even a little less in the case of the Fleurie. The packaging is exemplary, right down to the thick wax capsules – of different colours – but then I suppose it should be: these bottles are €50 and €70 respectively.


But are they any good? Well, it’s definitely an interesting story – though I still don’t yet understand why the winemaker and owner of the domaine has a different name to that of the domaine – but all in good time, I think they are definitely worth a visit!

The grapes are triaged before ‘classic‘ semi-carbonic fermentation of whole clusters in open-topped wooden tanks before vertical pressing. These wines were aged for 24 months, equally in tank and old demi-muids. My general dislike of ‘prestige cuvées‘ is that they have far too much vanilla oak – oak that rarely fades with gamay – but, on paper at least, these sound different:

2014 Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois
A south, south-west parcel of 2 hectares on a mix of marl (limestone-rich soil) and granite. 10,000 vines per hectare.
Medium-plus colour – but not a colour of overt extraction. The nose is a little tight, faintly powdery red fruit, though it still gives the impression of a silky texture. Freshness, impressive width and a growing intensity of flavour – the flavour of pure wine – no oak make-up. There’s a strong flavour that holds on the tongue here – impressively finishing with a little bitter-chocolate tannin. The freshness could almost become a little tart if it wasn’t for a very fine texture. After about 25 minutes there is a really impressive fresh red-fruited perfume – it’s a beauty. This is impressive stuff, and it’s worth €30 of anyone’s money – but €50? – perhaps only in the context of what is happening in the Côte d’Or. Simply excellent stuff though.

2014 Moulin à Vent Chassignol
From 1 hectare of old vines – more than 90 years old – planted at a density of 13,000 per hectare. A hillside that is rich in quartz as well as the usual granite.
Deeper colour than the Fleurie, but still transparent. The nose starts tight and deep – the depth coming from a faint reduction. Wow! – On the palate this is a little dynamo – very wide, with energy, freshness and an impressively complex melting flavour. The Fleurie is, by comparison, a little subdued in character. Of-course there’s a little extra tannin here, but the waves of gorgeous flavour are simply superb. As young as this tastes – and it tastes very young – this is a wonderfully talkative, engaging wine. Bravo – great wine! With time there is a little chocolate to the depth of aroma and a more floral accent to modest but shiny black cherry. €70? Well it is certainly, to my palate, a more instantly impressive, complex and layered wine than the Fleurie – which I thought worth €30!

2009 château des jacques oak-a-go-go

By billn on April 06, 2017 #beaujolais

2009 Château des Jacques, Moulin à Vent
Champ de Cour

Still quite a deep colour, not too much maturity. The nose is large, forward, sweet and cushioned – but this potentially delicious red fruit is still completely wrapped in vanilla oak – how did that happen?! This is supple and round with juicy, sweet fruit on the palate – like the nose this is seemingly delicious until the finish catches up with you – which is also a long line of vanilla flavour. I’m frankly amazed – first and last this wine still has too much vanilla – it seems that it will never fade. Beware all your gamay-based wines that ‘seem‘ to have too much vanilla but you decide to give them the benefit of the doubt because they are ‘young’ – it seems that they actually do have too much vanilla oak. Stuck!
Rebuy – No

beaujolais 2015 & the current market for bj…

By billn on March 29, 2017 #beaujolais#the market

My February 2017 report is now online, and it’s a 2015 Beaujolais-fest. 51 domaines and 355 wines – it’s also a great vintage!

In 2016, only 3 French regions experienced an increase in both their wine sales volumes and values; Beaujolais, Burgundy and Corsica. The crus of Beaujolais had 42% of their region’s sales volume and 54% in value. Beaujolais Villages (not nouveau) posted 6% of volume and 6% value growth, whereas Beaujolais (not nouveau) represented 11% of sales volume and 7% in value.

Whilst not my favourite appellation, even the Beaujolais Blanc and Beaujolais Villages Blanc continued to grow their volume and the Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages rosés – which I rate highly – increased by 7.2%. And then there’s Beaujolais Nouveau – whose sales volume is only a little less than that of the crus – even that label managed to grow its sales volume in 2016, albeit by only 0.1%.

At first sight this is a success story for Beaujolais but, unlike Burgundy, much of this growth has been bought – prices are really too low. Among the producers there’s a lot of fear about pricing, and dropping their prices in the face of buyers seems just a reflex action – whilst at the same time many producers see the cave cooperatives to be almost price-dumping. There are some price increases in the works for the brilliant 2015s, but often it amounts to 20-30 centimes per bottle – and the labels, corks, packaging and bottles have probably increased by more than that.

Having visited the magnificent ‘factory shop’ of Georges Duboeuf I have some sympathy with the price-dumping argument – how can a region ever drag itself from penury when it’s possible to buy a 2009 Fleurie off the shelf for €9? And Duboeuf is a long way from the worst offender!

enforcing the status quo?

By billn on February 27, 2017 #beaujolais#the market#warning - opinion!


I would say that here it is the ‘revitalising the region‘ comment that is up for interpretation – at least if we look at at past actions. Louis Latour, and I have to say Drouhin too, seem to approach the Beaujolais region purely as a source of ‘entry level wines.‘ Which (perhaps simplistically) could be viewed as trying to enforce the current status quo of the market. I would contrast that with the work of Bouchard Père at Château Poncié, or rather more successful, the work of Louis Jadot at Château des Jacques.

Beaujolais is only going to reap some reward for its action (where deserved) if those people who are deserving can monetise their efforts. Like Jadot, Lafarge-Vial and Thibault Liger-Belair are ‘externals’ who are successfully monetising good work, but for as long as major producers label a region only as the ‘entry level’ then that makes life difficult for all producers of a region, regardless of the quality that they can deliver.

Note: I was the very first writer to taste Louis Latour’s Pierre Dorée wine when bottled – last summer when visiting and profiling their Henry Fessy domaine/négoce/wines – and very good it is too. Here I only comment on my perception of the actual positioning of wine from Beaujolais by certain Burgundian ‘majors.’

week 3 of bo-jo-lays 2015 visits…

By billn on February 25, 2017 #beaujolais#travels in burgundy 2017

The last, lucky, producers who were unfortunate enough to host me to taste their 2015s!

There will be more visits/tastings to look at specific crus, but that’s enough for February’s report – now to finish January’s report – and that will be at least 5 days more work!

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