White: Domaine Franck Besson, “Note Blanche” Blanc de Noir de Gamay, Juliénas, Beaujolais, France, 2018
-With one look at Franck Besson’s imposing size and stature, you’d think the man would make bold, rich, and expressive wines, but you’d be wrong, in a big, big way. Franck and his small, all-organic estate produce some of the most delicately balanced Sparkling and White wines in the region (his reds are world-class, too), all from Gamay Noir. This gem is harvested and pressed very early and very quickly after the harvest has begun to preserve the freshness and acidity in the wine and minimize skin contact, with a clean, bright white wine always being the goal. It does some almost Chardonnay-like things in the glass, but with just a bit more complexity from some red fruit notes tucked in behind the light citrusy and mineral tones. A perfect wine for pre-dinner aperitif but would be a great first-course offering as well.
Rosé: Château de Javernand, Beaujolais-Villages Rosé, Chiroubles, Beaujolais, France, 2019
-Certified Organic and practicing Biodynamic principles in the vineyard, cousins Pierre Prost and Arthur Fourneau make some of the tastiest and most ethically farmed wines in their small village of Chiroubles. 25-Year-old vines lend complexity and vibrancy to this crisp and clean Rosé wine. Fermented and aged in the neutral-vessel combination of stainless steel and concrete tanks, to complete dryness, this wine shows notes of raspberry, tart cherry, and subtle blood orange and tangerine. The mineral and herbal components are there, but in superb balance. Another fantastic wine to begin the celebration with some charcuterie or cheese, but bold enough to carry the day through a traditional Turkey dinner.
Cru Rouge #1: Domaine Jean-Michel Dupré, “Haute Ronze” Régnié, Beaujolais, France, 2018
-The first of our four Red Cru’s, this Régnié is perhaps the most elegant and feminine of the four red wines. Highlighting his 50-80-year-old Gamay vines and natural, hands-off practices in the vineyard and the cellar, Jean-Michel Dupré is a rising star in Beaujolais, having fetched several top scores from serious wine critics like Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media. A mere 750 cases of this balanced beauty are produced for the world. Fermented and aged entirely in concrete tanks, with the inclusion of a little whole cluster (some stem and seed material), this wine showcases the pure sense of place and terroir that Beaujolais can be known for. Wild bramble berry notes are backed up with subtle tones of licorice and cooked/roasted soft herbs. This should be right at home with just about any poultry (chicken, duck, cornish hen, squab, etc.) this holiday.
Cru Rouge #2: Domaine Robert Perroud, “Foudre No. 5” Côte de Brouilly, Beaujolais, France, 2018
-The second of our Red Cru’s comes from mad-man, and dirty-joke-teller extraordinaire, Robert Perroud, and his ~10 hectares of 50-80-year-old, Certified Organic vines. Robert represents the seventh generation of his family to farm these storied hills of the Côte de Brouilly, and you can clearly see from the quality and complexity of the wines, why his family set up shop here, so many years ago. Coming from the single plot of “Les Sansons” and after a brief carbonic maceration and ferment under all native yeasts in concrete tanks, the wine is aged a short 9 months in all-used French oak vats, for the faintest touch of oaky/vanilla complexity to round the wine. At just 165 total cases produced, this ripe red-fruited and mineral-laced gem is not to be missed. All classic bistro and holiday fare would welcome this companion to the table!
Cru Rouge #3: Domaine Patrick Tranchand, “Cœur de Gamay” Saint-Amour, Beaujolais, France, 2018
-Coming from the YOUNGEST vines on his estate, at 50 years old, Patrick Tranchand’s “Cœur de Gamay” Saint-Amour begins to amp up the textural richness and body that people speak about being part of the “value” that Beaujolais can offer. Almost a little more Pinot Noir-like in appearance and expression, with slightly grippier tannins and a longer more complex finish, this is truly a wine for the table. Still fermented in concrete tanks, as so many Beaujolais producers are prone to do to preserve the terroir and sense of place, this wine’s subtle savory, spicy and herbal notes are tucked beautifully behind a core of darker black cherry, blackberry, and black currant flavors. Perhaps a little more at home with a Thanksgiving Ham, or other roasts than with poultry, this wine should still shine with just about any pairing.
Cru Rouge #4: Domaine Pascal Aufranc, “Vignes de 1939” Chénas, Beaujolais, France, 2018
-Our fourth and final Red Cru comes in the form of arguably our boldest and most masculine expression of Gamay Noir, from young and critically acclaimed vigneron, Pascal Aufranc, and his pre-WWII vines in the TINY village (only 635 total acres) of Chénas. Pascal, much like the rest of the vigneron included in this offer, takes great pride in his sustainable farming practices and his expression of place through his wines. With soils laden with quartz and manganese, Chénas often offers up among the most mineral-driven of the Cru de Beaujolais, with great complexity, length, and aging potential. Floral aromas are bolstered by richer, darker fruit tones, and a subtle smokiness that might welcome something off a grill. Truly “Burgundian” in nature, this is a Beaujolais that could stand up to steaks and chops if that’s what your table commands, but also age gracefully for inclusion in next year’s holiday table.