Archive for wine
For many wine lovers the name Beaujolais is nearly synonymous with plonk, which many attribute to lackisdaiscal farming, over production, sub-standard winemaking & a perception of gross manipulation in the winery.
I am one of those people who likes to dig around for wines which over deliver in quality, especially for the dollar spent. Beaujolais is one of those areas where one can still find an amazing wine with interesting-ness, delicious-ness, food friendliness & sensational gulp-ability AND still at a very reasonable price.
For those not that familar with this region & its wines, Beaujolais is located in the southern part of Burgundy, France. Interestingly I have heard more than one wine aficionado hypothesize that this region’s Gamay Noir grape variety is a mutation of Pinot Noir, (which would at least partially explain the innate finesse & umami of the resulting wines).
Geologically, the region of Beaujolais showcases a shift from the Chablis to Cote d’Or limestone to dark granitic soils, which carry through to the northern Rhone Valley to the south.
In addition & fortunately for us, there is a growing core of producers who are raising the bar for quality of Beaujolais & its wines through passion, dedication & an almost philisophical “back to basics” culture in both the vineyard & the winery.
Leading the charge is a group of vignerons in the Cru village of Morgon. who are affectionately referred to as the “Gang of Four” (Lapierre, Foillard, Thevenet & Breton). Their spirit, their strong wine culture & huge, ever growing following abroad has thankfully set the table & open the door for others to follow.
(As a side note, I have been fortunate to have some older Marcel Lapierre & Jean Foillard Morgons & were amazed at how Pinot Noir-like they get with 12 to 15 years of bottle age., which further hints the Pinot-Gamay genetic thing might be plausible).
In addition there are a growing number of producers from other parts of the Beaujolais appellation also creating benchmarks such as Diochon (in Moulin-a-Vent), Chignard (Fleurie) & Chateau Thivin (Cote de Brouilly).
My “Go To” VALUE selection, however, has been & will be the simply labeled Beaujolais from Damien Dupeuble. His wines are all about delicious-ness, purity, delightful refreshing-ness & gulp-ability. Our slogan is….serve it slightly chilled…AND serve it often.
Now each of these are imported into the U.S. by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. Although he is not the only importer of good Beaujolais, I have yet to find others (including from him) which inspire me as much.
We will, however, keep searching & will certainly let you know when we find another.
Until then, please enjoy!
Thank goodness for all of the media coverage readily available on wine today, which in fact thankfully seems to be growing. I believe any kind of well presented information & exposure really does encourage more & more people to try & enjoy wines. Even the somewhat controversial, supporting numeric rating system which many now use to assess (in a report card kind of way) the wines’ quality also seems to help readers with their selection, buying & cellaring.
From my point of view, however, I would like to propose another, VERY different way to assess wines, which I think is much more practical and applicable for daily use. It is the system we use in selecting wines for our restaurants’……specifically by the glass offerings……which involves searching out the kind of wines one would sip at a cafe or bistro along the Mediterranean basin…….where you simply just eat the food…..& gulp the wine. As one can readily understand this is a VERY different spectrum & profile of wines than is currently being highly rated….AND I therefore humbly suggest they should have their own category & their own rating criteria.)
Some wines are better by themselves, or for special occassions or with rich, long cooked foods. The kinds of wines I am speaking about are on the opposite end of the spectrum. These cafe styled wines are ones you can enjoy after a hard day’s work, which is more akin to guzzling 2/3’s of a bottle of beer to quench the thirst and cool off the body & mind.. Wines, where it is justifiable to just gulp down and not feel the need to swirl the glass first, or ceremoniously sniff the bouquet or feel guilty of the price tag or its speedy consumption. These are wines meant to be enjoyed……especially with foods (lighter fare at lunch or at home for dinner).
Here are four of my suggested crititeria for cafe styled wines.
First of all, I believe such a wine should be delicious. If we expect our foods to be delicious, shouldn’t cafe wines also be delicious too? AND….right out of the gates……NOT 20 years from now.
Secondly….if we expect our foods to be lighter & fresher today…..shouldn’t cafe styled wines be along the same lines? (Just so I am clear on this…we are NOT suggesting wimpy, thin, insipid wines. We want wines which are tasty & interesting, but just NOT heavy or gaudy).
Also, shouldn’t cafe styled wines be very food friendly? With white wines, this frequently means having a lemony edge & therefore interacting with the food as a squeeze of lemon would. (When ones squeezes a lemon over a fish, what does it do?…..cuts through the fishiness, oiliness and cleanses the palate between bites.) Well, a wisely selected white wine could do the same.
Lastly, a cafe styled wine should be UN-oaky, UN-alcoholic, UN-bitter AND gulp-able. (Gulp-able to me means NO hard edges, so it just slides down the gullett so easily & deliciously).
I would love to find as many 100 point scorers of this rating system as I can!