Chef's Corner

Wine Musings: French Gamay Beaujolais - Summer reds that are delicate, delightful and affordable

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I adore a delicious French Beaujolais! With scents of just picked berries, cloves and even an occasional nuance of banana, most Beaujolais is meant to be enjoyed while fresh and young.Thanks to its traditionally well balanced acidity, Beaujolais enjoys a particular vitality and liveliness in the mouth.

Who hasn’t heard of Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine so grapey and fruity that it’s best poured directly from the barrel? In one of the great ironies of wine, the recent demand for Beaujolais Nouveau has faded in America to such an extent that the loss of sales (and market) has had a devastating impact both on the regional Beaujolais vignerons and exporting negoçiants, hundreds of which have filed for bankruptcy.

To be sure, Beaujolais is much more than just Nouveau. There are four levels of Beaujolais quality: Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Crus, the last of which comprise wines made from vineyards located in the ten best Beaujolais villages of Regnie, Chiroubles, Brouilly, Côtes de Brouilly, Julienas, Chenas , Saint Amour, Fleurie, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. All of these fine Beaujolais Crus are subtly different yet affordable wines that I would enjoy with any meals on our dcuisine menu including Seafood Cioppino, Mediterranean Shrimp and Lobster and Corn Chowder.

The lightest, most delicate of Beaujolais Crus are Regnie, Chiroubles and the two Brouillys. Wines of medium weight and immense charm are Julienas, Chenas and Saint Amour, with the fleshiest and most full bodied being Fleurie, “the Queen of Beaujolais Crus”.  Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent, aka “the King of Beaujolais Crus”, are decidedly the most full bodied of Beaujolais and, if from a top vintage, will age the best for up to 10 years.

In addition to their easy quaffable natures, a delectable bottle of Beaujolais complements just about anything. I’ve occasionally been asked: “If you were stranded on a desert island and could drink only one type of wine for the duration, what would it be?” My answer has always been: “Beaujolais!

By the way, Louis Latour, the renowned Burgundian negoçiant, is now offering a 2012 Gamay made from Gamay Beaujolais grapes grown in two of the best Crus in Beaujolais. At less than $15 per bottle, I recommend it very highly. It is a truly delicious vinous bargain.

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