Winter is prime time for red wine and one wine I get oodles of questions about is Beaujolais. With the release of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday in November, like clockwork, it’s easy for consumers to be seduced by all the advertising fanfare. Especially for a wine that’s under $10 a bottle! But, you know what they say, if something seems too good to be true…it usually is.
Unfortunately, Beaujolais Nouveau is essentially mass produced, poorly made wine that has marred the reputation of the region over the years. The upside to this situation however is, despite the jammy, insipid Nouveau wines, there are actually MANY fabulous Beaujolais wines worth exploring!
Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Beaujolais also produces charming, easy-drinking red wines from the Gamay grape. This thin-skinned grape variety produces wines with minimal tannins capable of displaying a variety of aromas and flavors including cherry, raspberry, blackberry, violet and peony, which are usually accentuated by black pepper, herbs or spice. So how can you find these special wines and avoid the plonk? Please scroll down, my wine loving friends, for all the deets!
The key to exploring and ultimately enjoying Beaujolais is actually quite simple: look for the name of one of the region’s 10 crus on a wine label. A “cru” is a specific vineyard site within the Beaujolais appellation known for producing wines which express characteristics unique to their region, a quality known as terroir. In Beaujolais, the crus include Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Regnie, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Chiroubles, Juliénas, Chénas and Saint-Amour. Seeing one of these names on a label usually ensures you’re getting a quality wine.
Which leads me to this week’s featured wine, the 2011 Louis Jadot Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent ($20). This wonderful wine demonstrates much of what’s to love about Beaujolais. After opening it the other night, almost five years after bottling, we were pleased to find an utterly delicious, casually elegant and enjoyable wine. A true gem at the price point to be sure and I hope you take the time during red wine season to enjoy all Beaujolais has to offer as well!
Who it’s from: Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot whose family settled in Beaune near the turn of the century. Maison Louis Jadot focuses on the purest expression of terroir through the medium of the vine. The historic Château des Jacques estate, located in the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, was widely considered one of the most prestigious estates in Beaujolais and was purchased by Louis Jadot in 1996. As a result, Jadot became the first Burgundy house to own a major Beaujolais vineyard. In 2001, Louis Jadot bought another vineyard in Morgon. In 2008, both vineyards were regrouped as the Château des Jacques Estates.
Where it’s From: This wine hails from the the village of Moulin-à-Vent (which translates as ‘windmill’ in English), between Fleurie and Chenas. The Moulin-à-Vent wines are referred to as the “King of Beaujolais,” and widely considered to be the most Burgundian “Cru” of Beaujolais. Unlike other crus, Moulin-à-Vent wines are often fuller-bodied and more complex with ample tannin and structure which allows them to age longer. The pink granite and manganese-rich soils of Moulin-à-Vent also promote the growth of concentrated grapes on the region’s Gamay vines, which produce more intensely flavored wines.
This Wine by the (Geeky) Numbers:
Grape Variety: 100% Gamay
Ageing: 10 months in French oak (30% new), 6 months in bottle.
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: This wine beckons from the glass with its beautiful bright ruby red color and enticing aromas of dark fruit, spice cake and lavender. On the palate, fleshy dark fruit predominates with flavors of ripe black cherry, blackberry and cassis balanced by supple tannins and a bright acidity. Even after five years in the bottle this dynamic wine could have definitely lasted another five!
Pair it with: This versatile wine would make a perfect match with a variety of dishes ranging from our recently posted Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt as well as our super popular Quick Coq au Vin and Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion!
Suggested Retail Price: $20 – and while this vintage is no longer on the market, find the most recent year you can and enjoy either now…or in a few years!
The post Wine of the Week: 2011 Louis Jadot Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
Lately, folks have been asking me what I’ll be making for dinner this New Year’s Eve, and what could be better than a meal inspired by a recent trip to France’s Burgundy wine region?
Last September we had the pleasure of spending a truly delightful day in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, with Marjorie Taylor and her daughter Kendall Smith Franchini, Founders of The Cook’s Atelier. Originally from the US, Marjorie and Kendall followed their bliss to France and started their new venture five years ago. Kendall had been living in France for ten years, going to school and then working for Christie’s Auction House and wine importer Kermit Lynch. Marjorie was co-chef proprietor of the award-winning restaurant and cooking school, Ruby Beet Gourmet, in Phoenix, Arizona prior to making the move overseas. She had also studied at La Varenne cooking school under noted teacher and cookbook author, Anne Willan. Together, this mother daughter team decided they wanted to be on the same side of the pond and now offer market tours and hands-on cooking classes to students lucky enough to score a spot in one of their highly coveted classes. And for good reason, the “Market Tour & Lunch” class we experienced was hands down one of the highlights of our entire trip.
Many people had recommended we see the Beaune market during our visit and we considered ourselves very fortunate to have Marjorie as our guide – there was so much to see! As we made our way through the vast marketplace, Marjorie introduced us to her favorite purveyors of produce, meats and cheeses. Everything from Bresse chickens to Truffe de Bourgogne beckoned – it was truly a feast for the senses. After we had procured the ingredients for our lunch, we took the short walk through the charming town of Beaune to the “atelier” (French for studio or workshop), a small but very elegant and inviting space. A beautiful zinc-topped farm table was the room’s focal point as well as a large chalkboard featuring the day’s menu. Two generously sized windows allowed sunlight to stream in, giving the space an ethereal feel and making for ideal food photography (coincidence?). To the right was the kitchen, already appointed with work stations where we would all help prepare the day’s meal. Everyone got to participate and Marjorie was a very relaxed and patient instructor not to mention the lady can cook!
Once finished, we were treated to chilled flutes of Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s sparkling wine, paired with Marjorie’s delicious Gougeres which, up until that day, had always seemed too daunting to make. They were warm and divine right out of the oven and took the edge off of our hunger which we were just starting to notice. Soon after we sat down to a beautiful meal of Escargot with Parsley Butter followed by Monsieur Vossot’s Filet of Beef with Late Summer Vegetables and Roasted Potatoes with Thyme. By the time our dessert of Summer Butter Cake with Soft Cream arrived at the table we had become fast friends with our fellow students, also visitors from other countries around the world.
With our meal we enjoyed local wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Burgundy’s specialty!) and since we also visited Maison Louis Jadot and Maison Joseph Drouhin during our trip I’d like to suggest a few of their wines to pair with this delicious meal. Burgundy is generally a pricy proposition, however, if you’re looking for two great values, try the 2011 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis ($25) a citrusy, flinty Chardonnay with a racy acidity which will pair nicely with the rich escargot. For a red, try the 2010 Louis Jadot Chateau de Jacques Morgon ($32) with notes of black cherry and currant with a lovely minerality and supple tannins. If you’re looking to kick it up a notch for New Year’s Eve, try the 2010 Louis Jadot Meursault ($54), a rich, mineral-tinged white made from 100% Chardonnay, which would make a lovely pairing for the escargot. The 2009 Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches ($95), a delicious, cherry and spice-laced red with silky tannins made from 100% Pinot Noir, would complement the filet of beef beautifully. By the time we had finished our “lunch” it was around 5pm, and we were in no rush to leave the “atelier” with its deliciously inviting atmosphere. Reluctantly, we eventually said our goodbyes and made our way back to our hotel. All in all it was a pretty fabulous and memorable day!
I really look forward to recreating this meal for New Year’s Eve and I hope you enjoy it as well. All of the wine recommendations are available through The Wine Atelier and to access the recipes, just click the recipe names in the above paragraphs which will take you directly to The Cook’s Atelier website. If you plan on traveling to France in 2014, I highly recommend a visit to The Cook’s Atelier. If you’re a foodie I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. Wishing you a very Healthy and Happy New Year!