Beaujolais: An Essential Part of Burgundy

We have argued for many moons that some of, if not the, best values in red wine can be found in Beaujolais.  Certainly, when one cruises the “cru” vineyards of this region, the grapes of which have been cared for and transformed into wine by the serious and quite traditional growers, the notion that Beaujolais is every bit an essential, and quite glorious, part of Burgundy becomes evident.

To help make the point, here is a quick story about a recent tasting experience.  In our private cellar, we stumbled across a bottle of Juliénas “Grande Réserve” 1993 from Pascal Granger, our grower for many years whose cellars sit in the hamlet of Les Poupets, a kilometer or so from the center of the village of Juliénas.  Pascal has always vinified his most important wines in a manner that mimics to a degree the methods practiced by his neighbors to the north in the Cote d’Or.  He is particularly proud of his “Grande Reserve” offerings, often daring one to compare these wines to village wines from Gevrey, Morey and the like, all the while chuckling about the gross disparity in price.  Well, the other day we did just that in a way …. At the same sitting, while dining at a local (simple, humble but very good) restaurant known as “Another Fork in the Road” in Milan, New York, we brought, for our pleasure and that of several friends, both this ’93 Juliénas “GR” from Granger and a ’93 Nuits St.Georges 1er Cru “Les Perrieres” from Regis Forey.  Now, I am not going to shock anyone by reporting that the Juliénas “defeated” the Nuits St. Georges in some mock combat.  No, the Nuits was far too splendid for that little trick of fate to have occurred. But, the Juliénas provided lots of pleasure, still alive, still fresh on the palate nearly twenty years into its existence.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last time, we remark on the splendors of finely crafted Beaujolais.  The Gamay grape, planted in the lovely, welcoming hills of Beaujolais may not produce the most complex or regal wines but, when the vineyards are well-stiuated and the grower is dedicated, there are true gems to be found amongst the crowd of wines produced there … and almost always at prices that are more than reasonable.

NIR: 10 Feb 2013