The Other Red Burgundy
The name Burgundy can conjure many thoughts and definitions depending on who you are talking too. Most red wine fanatics associate Burgundy with Pinot Noir but there is another red grape that is also part of the region, Gamay. In the bottom South portion of Burgundy, France is the Beaujolais region. This is Gamay country. Gamay is considered a fruity red varietal with thin skin and light tannins. The stereotypical Beaujolais wine, as I referenced in my Pinot Project post, is a light, cheap every day drinking wine that can even be served chilled or with a spritzer. The famous names of Georges Duboeuf and Louis Jadot have kept this stereotype alive while providing the majority of Beaujolais we see in the states. Not to mention the young fruity Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released every year 6-8 weeks after harvest, has not helped the image. Is there any serious wine coming out of Beaujolais? Yes there actually is. Top level Beaujolais or Cru Beaujolais is produced in limited quantities. The wine is darker in color, more structured and complex. The fruit is still there but tannins can play a role which will make this wine ageable and I would classify it as a much more serious wine. There are seven Cru Beaujolais Appellations in the region and each of them have their own distinctions. One of my favorites is Moulin-à-Vent. It is sometimes referred to as the King of Beaujolais because it is the more powerful and complex of all the Crus. For you Burgundy lovers Moulin-à-Vent is like the Gevrey-Chambertin of the Côte de Nuits. I recently had a bottle of Moulin-à-Vent from Domaine Diochon 2008 ($45 @ Mike’s Wine Dive). It was ripe, loaded with berries and cherries but it had lots of minerality with a popping acidity. A fantastic wine worth visiting over again. I would also recommend anything from Marcel Lapierre in the Morgon Appellation who makes some of the most sought after Cru Beaujolais out there. Impressive wines do come out of Beaujolais, you just need to know where to look.