As my regular blog readers know, I occasionally write about non-medical topics which I feel are worth writing about. My goal is to enhance your appreciation of life and what it has to offer.
Today, I want to thank Nature for giving us the 2009 vintage Beaujolais. Beaujolais is actually the most southern region of Burgundy. Burgundy is considered home to the ultimate expression of Pinot Noir, the grape variety made mainstream by the movie Sideways. If one asks 100 Sommeliers what their favorite wine is, chances are most will mention Burgundy as their favorite. I was lucky enough to taste a 20 year old top quality Burgundy a few years ago. It was an experience which I will never forget!
Many identify Beaujolais as the wine bottle with the flowers on it, which comes out every November. This is Beaujolais-Nouveau, the simplest of Beaujolais wines. The global marketing of Beaujolais-Nouveau, mainly by George Duboeuf (Mr. Beaujolais) has been so successful it has actually hurt the rest of the Beaujolais wines. This, my dear readers, is your gain, since the price of wine is simply due to supply and demand.
The red grape grown in Beaujolais is Gamay. All red wines in this region are 100% Gamay. Top quality Gamay, in great vintages, can taste and smell very much like a Burgundy wine, but cost significantly less.
Beaujolais wines have different degrees of quality:
Beaujolais-Nouveau is a simple wine (basically fermented grape juice), which comes out around Thanksgiving. It is meant to be drunk within 1-2 months of release. Although cheap (most are around 5-6 dollars), these are not exciting wines. You can do better!
The next level of quality is simply called Beaujolais (which is on the label as well). The wine is still simple with a little more complexity than the Nouveau. It is not made for aging, but can last longer than the Nouveau. An ordinary wine, meant to be eaten with simple faire.
Beaujolais-Villages are the next level of quality (again seen on the label as well). In great vintages, these wines can be good to very good and can age a few years (3-5). These wines have more complexity and definitely worth trying. Most of these wines currently cost 10-15 dollars/bottle.
If you really want to be impressed, however, look for Cru Beaujolais. There are only 10 villages in Beaujolais with the Cru designation. From north to south they are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. The label on the wine bottle will not say Cru Beaujolais. It will mention the name of the winery and the name of the village mentioned above. The top notch wines from these villages currently cost 20-30 dollars/bottle. Not cheap, but no more expensive than your run-of-the mill, blue chip Tequila or Whiskey bottle. I have been fortunate to try some of these wines from Côte de Brouilly and Moulin-à-Vent. These wines display gorgeous black berries and fruit, damp earth (have you ever smelled the dirt after a rain?), alluring smokiness, and appealing minerality. Beaujolais, again due to mass marketing of the Nouveau variety, is typically not associated with aging. The Cru Beaujolais, however, can easily age 5-10 years, if not more (this is assuming the wine is kept away from heat and light, on its side so the cork stays moist, a relatively constant temperature of 55-60 degrees, and 50-70% humidity). Match these wines like any Burgundy wine: serve slightly chilled (60-65 degrees) and serve with Salmon, mild red meat, duck (the most obvious match) or food with earthy sauces (think mushroom sauce, etc.).
The 2009 vintage has been named the vintage of a life time by many growers who have spent a life time in Beaujolais. Who knows when another vintage of this quality will come about? To drink wines from Burgundy of similar quality to the Cru Beaujolais, prepare to spend at least 50-60 dollars/bottle!
Where can you fine these wines? If you live in Orange County, I recommend Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, Wine Exchange in Orange, or Envoyer Fine Wines in Laguna Hills. You may also try Total Wine stores. In my experience, however, Total Wine is usually a few months behind in bringing the latest wines. If you miss your chance to purchase these wines, call the store close to you and ask if they are planning to bring in any 2009 Village or Cru Beaujolais.
Hurry! The buzz is spreading fast and the people in the wine world are beginning to buy these wines at an accelerated pace.
I hope these wines will bring as much pleasure to you as they have to my family table.
Michael Jazayeri, M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 10 years of experience. His office is located in Orange County, California. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call 714-834-0101.