1er cru beaujolais tasting with the hong kong wine society

some months ago, i was sitting next to a côte de beaune wine maker and we were talking about burgundy in general.  when i asked him about beaujolais, he looked at me straight in the eyes and said, in no uncertain terms: "beaujolais ne fait pas partie de la bourgogne!" which is apparently very much what many wine makers in the northern part of burgundy thinks, that beaujolais is not in burgundy.

in fact, most will know beaujolais as a simple quaffing wine.  super fruity with some aromas reminiscent of very fresh red fruits, banana, "fruit-drops", and even bubble-gum.  hardly aromas associated with the more serious wines of northern burgundy.

this simple fruit character comes from the grape but also the method of production that is traditional in beaujolais.  the wine are based on gamay, a light and simple red grape variety that is often fermented using a technique called "carbonic maceration" to give it a deeper colour and more intense aromas & fruit flavours. 

carbonic maceration is the source of those funky tastes like fruit drops and bubble gum, so typical of beaujolais nouveau.  for this to work, grapes are picked by hand and whole bunches are carefully placed inside a tank which is then sealed and carbon dioxide pumped in.  this cause the fermentation to start inside the individual berries thus getting the colour and the aromas from the skin but not getting the bitterness of the tannins and the pips.  depending on how long the wine maker will let that sort of maceration last will affect the character of the final wine.  eventually, the skins will break off and the juice will start to ferment in the normal way.

however, there are 10 crus areas in beaujolais that are also producing more serious wines with quite a bit of character of their own.  sometimes, wine makers in these crus, or particular villages, will use more traditional techniques and some may not use carbonic maceration at all and expose the wines to oak if its structure (acidity and tannins) and its fruit are intense enough for this.  their wines can be complex and satisfying, even if they can not age for a very long time, and can represent excellent value on the market.

and so last friday, i went to another great tasting hosted by the hong kong wine society and nigel bruce and we had 8 wines from "moulin à vent", which makes concentrated wines which can age up to 10 years and develop "burgundian" character.  we also had 1 from "fleurie", a wine often described as "floral" incidentally, and 1 from juliénas, which develops spicy characteristics and can age 5 years or so.

two of the wines were my favourite and it so happens were judged #1 and #3 by the society that night - as usual, you can click on the link to get my full notes in pdf based on the wset diploma format:

château des jacques grand clos de rochegres 2002 from louis jadot - moulin à vent

very good premium wine.  silky, smooth, complex, and concentrated.  excellent balance of its components.  long  & savoury after-taste shows the wine was made with excellent fruit quality.  excellent typicity of its style and still has a good structure to age some more.

château des jacques clos de grand carquelin 2002 from louis jadot - moulin à vent

very good premium wine.  intense and a good length of the after-taste.  although the alcohol slightly higher than acidity and tannins, it is well supported by excellent complexity of its aroma and palate.  a wine that has aged beautifully and still very well “together” and definitely pleasant to drink now.

the other wines we had that night were:

2002 Chateau Des Jacques Clos De La Roche, Moulin A Vent, Louis Jadot

2002 Chateau Des Jacques Clos De Champ De Cour, Moulin A Vent, Louis Jadot

2002 Chateau Des Jacques, Morgon, Louis Jadot

2004 Chateau Des Jacques, Moulin A Vent, Louis Jadot

2005 Chateau Des Jacques, Moulin A Vent, Louis Jadot

2005 Moulin-à-Vent, Olivier Merlin

2006 Fleurie, Domaine André Colonge

2006 Julienas Chateau Des Capitans, G. Duboeuf

2006 Mâcon-Cruzille, Clos des Vignes du Mayne, Bret Brothers (excellent - complex and deep)

2005 Moulin-à-Vent, Olivier Merlin

2006 Fleurie, Domaine André Colonge