5. Beaujolais – that you should buy!
My list is far from exhaustive, and of-course it reflects my palate and the visits and blind tastings that I’ve made so far. I’m looking for real fruit, not artificial carbonic fruit! But here you will find some really great wines, wines priced from too low to ambitious for the… Read More
2014 Blind Beaujolais Tasting
All tasted blind at ‘Interbeaujolais’ in Villefranche 25, 26 and 27 April 206. Virtually all the wines tasted here are from the 2014 vintage – as requested – but a few 2013s seemed to creep into the mix too. Whilst all were tasted blind, the ‘cru’ was known… Read More
2020 Beaujolais Nouveau
Or 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 Nouveau
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
2017 Beaujolais Nouveau
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. Mommessin 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… Trenel 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… Click here to see all the remaining notes!