Thursday, April 06, 2006

Beaujolais Tasting

Stephanie and I enjoyed a roast chicken dinner last night with scallion and sour cream mashed potatoes and individual terrines of creamed spinach. I had been saving a couple of half bottles of beaujolais for such a dinner. The wines, from the 2001 vintage, were produced by Alfred Gino Bertolla at Domaine du Granit, and they both come from the smaller appellation, or "cru", of Moulin-a-Vent. Although most Americans are familiar with beaujolais only for its mass-marketed, quickly made "nouveau" released in the Fall, this region on the south side of Burgundy produces a number of excellent wines that are capable of significant aging. And they all cost less than $20. Interestingly, as a marketing ploy, whomever labeled these bottles called them "Red Burgundy Wine," eschewing the association with beaujolais all together. Like all beaujolais wines, however, these were made from the gamay grape, rather than burgundy's pinot noir.

The only difference between the two wine labels is that one reads "La Rochelle" and the other "Les Caves." I initially thought these represented different vineyards, but now I believe they are just different winemaking styles. The La Rochelle was a fairly classic beaujolais - red cherries, with a touch of sourness, some oak but fairly restrained, and of medium body and extraction. Its sister, the Les Caves, was far more modern, with a rich aroma of spicy, smoky oak and a broader and riper fruit profile. It bordered on Aussie shiraz. Regular readers of this blog will of course anticipate that I preferred the former, as it matched my expectations and complemented the food better.

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