I recently stopped by Village Wines, one of my favorite Nashville wine stores, to ask their help in assembling a case of wines that I had never tasted before. (My only prerequisite was that every bottle had to be reasonably priced.) I opened one of them for dinner on Friday. It was a cru Beaujolais.
Beaujolais! You mean that tepid, boring, fruity beverage that makes its appearance every year in time for Thanksgiving?
No! I’m definitely not talking about “Beaujolais Nouveau”, the simple wine that’s released just weeks after the grapes have been harvested. It’s precisely that impression that causes so much misunderstanding about the “real” Beaujolais.
Before I get into the specifics of the wine I drank on Friday, just a few words about “cru” Beaujolais:
Beaujolais is part of the Burgundy region of France. Within Beaujolais there are ten villages/areas that produce the highest quality wines. These ten villages make up cru Beaujolais. Each cru Beaujolais wine bears the name of its respective village.
** Although you might see “cru du Beaujolais” on a wine label, you might not. Sometimes just the cru (village/area) is named. (Those French expect us to know their geography!) The names you will find are: Brouilly, Côte du Broilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour.
** Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape, a cousin of Pinot Noir. It’s similar to Pinot Noir in that it is low in tannin and very food friendly. It differs from Pinot Noir in its higher acidity…and lower price.
As you can see from the label of my wine, it comes from the Juliénas cru. (In smaller letters the label confirms that the wine is a cru du Beaujolais.)
The winemaker is Pascal Granger, whose wine estate has been in the family for over 200 years. While I hadn’t heard of Pascal Granger, I did recognize the name of Rosenthal Wine Merchant, the importer. The company works closely with growers who produce limited quantities of fine wines.
And what did I experience after swirling and sniffing? Zip-a-Dee–Doo–Dah! Racy acidity and mellow fruit. And not a lot of wood – which made it a perfect pairing for my Chicken Saltimboca and pasta dinner.
Its modest alcohol level (13%) also makes it a good “sipper” without food. That’s my excuse for drinking the whole bottle myself.
Oh, yes…the bottle cost $20.