November 21, 2012

Appel on Wine: Almost any old Beaujolais worthy of thanks

By Joe Appel

(Continued from page 1)

Duboef's main competitor is Joseph Drouhin, the great Burgundy house. Drouhin's Beaujolais Nouveau (same price as the Duboeuf) is definitely more serious. It's firmer, with the natural raspberry sweetness offset by tarter blueberry and cranberry notes. Fear not, it's still ticklish and immediately appealing.

But its savoriness brings it a lot closer to standing in for a low-priced French Pinot Noir (minus the earth). Because it lacks the easy sweetness of the Duboeuf, it might appeal to someone who (claims he/she) "only likes dry red wine".

What could be fun is for you to set one of those bottles alongside one of Pierre-Marie Chermette's Cuvee Traditionelle Beaujolais Vielles Vignes 2011 ($16, Wicked). This is not Nouveau. Nor is it Cru (though the Chermettes make Crus, too). It is, however, extraordinary. And no offense, Georges, but it stands opposed to everything Nouveau has become in the mass-production Era of Duboeuf.

The Chermettes employ assiduous pruning of their old Gamay vines to ensure low yields and high flavor concentration without funny business; hand-pick and vinify traditionally with the organically grown grapes' natural (not added) yeasts, barely filtered if at all, aged long in oak foudres. In most vintages, amazingly, they don't add sulfites.

The wine is perfumed like a flower pot, with fresh petals playing off the tantalizing funk of moist, mineral-rich fresh soil. Flavors of rich, ripe berries are driving yet controlled, and the medium-full body tests your ability to refrain from gulping. It will play peacekeeper between the fruit-loving and mineral-loving red-wine drinker at your table. Giving, communicative, generous and gracious, this wine expresses the essence of Thanksgiving. And for that reason, it ought to be by your side well after the festivities have died down.

 

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog, soulofwine.com, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at: soulofwine.appel@gmail.com

 

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