We enter the season when many excuses to feast greet us, beginning with Thanksgiving. We will in a later article offer suggestions of wines you might enjoy in your celebrations. The wines of Beaujolais properly belong to that list. They go with whatever you serve, that’s their most elemental charm. In addition, Beaujolais just plain pleases people. No worries whether guests will like it.
Just to remind you, the Beaujolais region, nominally part of Burgundy, produces a flood of wines made from the Gamay grape. White Beaujolais, made from Chardonnay, also exists, but with much less prevalence and fanfare.
The Beaujolais appellation consists of wines from the entire region. Usually these are light, fruity, and extremely quaffable: classic bistro wines.
Beaujolais-Villages represents wines from the 39 villages in the center of the region. Authorities stipulate that these wines be higher in alcohol and otherwise meet higher standards than Beaujolais.
Cru Beaujolais describes wines from ten villages on the best slopes in Northern Beaujolais. Cru Beaujolais meet higher standards still.
On the third Thursday of November, producers can release Beaujolais Nouveau. These are the first wines of the new vintage. Uncomplex but frothily fresh and inviting, Nouveau burst forth with jammy fruit, and plenty of zest.
French authorities stipulate the November release date to ensure that producers actually give the wine time enough to become stable. In times past, producers rushed the wine to a thirsty market with little concern for quality, hence the regulation. Even now, races to deliver Nouveau to targets around the world help create excitement for the new wine but regulations ensure that producers cut no corners. The wine is fun to drink, with its deep purple color, fragrant fruitiness, and general gulpable character. Not a wine to hold onto, but delicious on release.
Beaujolais-Villages offers more character and distinction. Perfect on the holiday table because it goes well with white or red meat, and people love it.
A safe bet, it offers plenty of charm.
Cru Beaujolais goes a step further. While not tannic like many young Rhone wines, Cru Beaujolais, especially in the better vintages, display similar depth and richness, and excellent structure. You can enjoy them on release but they cellar surprisingly well.
Of the ten cru villages, Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon display the fullest scale. Powerful yet stately, they combine suppleness with remarkable depth. Fleurie tends more toward roundness, with a ready appeal. Your Thanksgiving turkey could do worse than be paired with any of the delicious wines that follow:
Beaujolais Villages, Potel Aviron ($13.99)—Exactly how the textbook says Beaujolais should be. Perfectly delicious!
Fleurie, Villa Ponciago ($17.99)—Densely packed yet inviting. Its meaty flavors will go well with the roasted flavors of the turkey. Don’t be afraid to serve it with beef, lamb, or cheese.
Morgon, Cote de Py, Potel Aviron ($19.99)—It has the charming flavors of Beaujolais, and the chunky appeal of a Crozes-Hermitage. Very impressive!
Moulin à Vent, La Bruyère ($21.99)—Here’s a big surprise for the uninitiated. This wine has such sweep and depth of flavor, you will hardly recognize it as coming from Beaujolais. A great pairing with turkey and other holiday roasts.
This Just In!
Georges Duboeuf’s 2011 Nouveau ($9.99) has arrived, all fresh and lively. Think of it as a very dark white wine. Chill it, and serve with anything.