Or 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: