Tasting Group: Cru Beaujolais



By Kori ~ March 2nd, 2010.

As I mentioned last month, one of our resolutions for the New Year is to explore more wines from around the world. Since we live in Washington State and often drink wines from Washington State, we want to make sure that we continue to hone our knowledge of the entire world of wine and maintain well-rounded palates in order to make us even more objective when we evaluate wines from Washington State. As a result, we have put together a Wine Peeps Tasting Group which includes what we think is an excellent peer group of knowledgeable wine lovers to taste, share, and learn more about wine together. Unlike our monthly wine tasting dinners in which the guests rotate, this tasting group includes people who are committed to getting together once a month which we hope will benefit all of us. In addition to trying varieties and regions that we do not taste frequently, the other main difference between this group and our wine tasting dinners is that each group member will bring a bottle consistent with the month’s theme so no one will know all the wines in the blind tasting.

Last week, we met for the second time and explored Cru Beaujolais. This was the perfect theme to expand our palates as a quick search of Wine Peeps reveals that we have only written about one other Cru Beaujolais (in last month’s Challenging Wine Pairing with Spiral Baked Ham).

Beaujolais is located north of Lyon, France, and is a sub-region of Burgundy. Cru Beaujolais, the highest classification in Beaujolais, account for the production within ten villages or areas in the foothills of the Beaujolais Mountains. These wines do not usually list the word “Beaujolais” on their labels, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from mass-produced Beaujolais Nouveau. From north to south, the Beaujolais crus are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly.

Gamay is the primary grape in Beaujolais. Wines made from Gamay are generally light, fruit-driven, have low tannins, and are best consumed young. Gamay is also known for its floral aromas. As a result, these wines can be excellent summer-weight reds. Some of the Cru Beaujolais can be a bit fuller-bodied than other Beaujolais and may be able to age a bit longer, though no Beaujolais wines are meant for long-term cellaring.

We tasted seven wines, and the consensus favorite was the 2006 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes “Cuvee des Ambassades” Côte de Brouilly. Thankfully, given the limited number of Cru Beaujolais available in local wine shops, we did not have any duplicates. We did have the same wine, Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes “Cuvee des Ambassades” Côte de Brouilly, from two different vintages, though, which always makes for an interesting comparison (the 2006 finished first while the 2008 finished sixth).

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2006 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes “Cuvee des Ambassades” Côte de Brouilly (Côte de Brouilly, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Medium ruby red, the darkest of these seven wines. Aromas of rocks and minerals lead to flavors of strawberry twizzlers and more minerality. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity and medium tannins. A lot going on in this wine. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Garagiste (Seattle, Washington), $21

2007 Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent (Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Medium ruby in color. Very Old World nose on this one with barnyard and dirty diaper aromas. It mellows out a bit with some air and raspberry notes come through on the palate. Light-bodied and crisp with medium tannins.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Bellevue, Washington), $23.39; Available elsewhere, $18 to $23

2007 Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie Les Garants (Fleurie, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Ruby red in color. Earth notes on the nose; more earth as well as sour cherry on the palate. Light to medium-bodied with low to medium tannins, low viscosity, and a long, somewhat sour finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Available from various retailers, $21 to $22

2007 G. Descombes Morgon Vieilles Vignes (Morgon, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Light to medium ruby red. Aromas of spice, cinnamon, and clove lead to flavors of bitter cherry. Drying tannins and a medium finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Available from various retailers, $22 to $33

2006 Georges Duboeuf Morgon (Morgon, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Ruby to garnet red with some brown brick around the edges. Earth and floral aromas on the nose; cherry and a bit medicinal on the palate. Light to medium-bodied with low tannins and a plain finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Bellevue, Washington), $12.99; Available elsewhere, $11 to $17

2008 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes “Cuvee des Ambassades” Côte de Brouilly (Côte de Brouilly, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Light, almost transparent, ruby. Nice nose with cranberry and floral aromas. Red fruit flavors. Lots of acidity, almost seems effervescent. Light to medium-bodied with a somewhat bitter finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Bellevue, Washington), $16.79; Available elsewhere, $19

2007 Chateau Thivin Côte de Brouilly (Côte de Brouilly, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France): Light ruby in color. Green olives come through on the nose; sour cherry Kool-Aid powder and green olives on the palate. Light-bodied and lively with low tannins.
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: Available from various retailers, $19 to $25


Filed under: Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, French Wine, Gamay, Red Wine, Tasting Group, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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