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!
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