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Beaujolais



The Beaujolais region produces a small ocean of wine.

Most Beaujolais is red.  Damned near all of it, in fact.  Something like 98% of the wine produced in this region, south of Burgundy and Macon, north of the Rhone, is made from Gamay Noir. 
There is a tiny amount of white wine made here, typically of Chardonnay.

The name Beaujolais derives from the house of Beaujeu, a name which appears in the mid-900s.  The region, in addition to vineyards, gained fame in the 19th century as a commercial center of the textile industry.  But it's the silky wines we are concerned with here.

The classic vinification is a technique called "Carbonic Maceration."
The region has insisted on hand-harvested fruit, but allowed mechanical picking with the 2000 harvest.  The idea is to keep the fruit intact as much as possible.  The grapes are then put into the fermentation tanks "whole" and un-crushed.  Of course, the fruit at the bottom of a thousand-gallon tank will be crushed, but this, at the beginning, comprises something like 30% of the tank.  In the middle and top are mostly whole clusters.  The fermentation takes place and in so doing, the grapes pop (the fermentation creates alcohol and CO2).  For Nouveau wines, the time "on the grape skins" is something like three or four days.  For more "serious" Beaujolais wines, this maceration period may extend for little more than a week. 

 

 

 

 



wpe3D.jpg (5232 bytes)The most basic, modest-quality wine is called simply "Beaujolais."  This can come from any of the 38,545 acres which carpet the area.  

Typically, simple "Beaujolais" comes from vineyards outside the 10 "crus" (top villages where the wine takes merely the name of the village) or the other 39 "villages" which can be bottled as "Beaujolais-Villages" or be labeled Beaujolais-and the name of the specific village.  
There are presently something like 5,398 hectares of vineyards in the designated area which is simple "Beaujolais."

From there, the top Beaujolais wines are sold by the name of their "cru" of which there used to be just nine.  After a ten year period of "research," a tenth "cru" was elevated and anointed.   That would be
Régnié.



Grapes_Approaching_Harvest.jpg (13371 bytes)Beaujolais Nouveau is a particular type of Beaujolais with a short history.  These wines, it seems, used to be sold simply as "Beaujolais Primeur."  Alexis Lichine wrote in his first book on French wines, these did not merit even a mention.  "It was a young, fruity wine sold in barrels and served in carafes in restaurants in Lyon and in specialized bistros in Paris--strictly the cheap places.  In the early 1950s, this vin nouveau never saw the inside of a bottle or traveled overseas.  But at about that same time, by the strange workings of reverse snobbery, the news spread that it was chic to drink this newly born wine." 



Years ago this wine was offered for sale on November 15th, but a decade or so ago they changed the release date to the "third Thursday in November."  This usually allows some extra days, not that the wine needs "aging." 


Beaujolais Nouveau has experienced a few ups and downs.  It seemed like it was more popular about ten+ years ago.  We have purchased but a few of them and can't say they're much to our taste.  Beaujolais-Nouveau costs less, typically, than "Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau."  The world will really have gone to hell when you see "cru" Beaujolais making "nouveaux."  They don't, at this time.  Thank goodness!

My famous line is "Asking how the Beaujolais Nouveaux are this year is like asking how the Pepsi is this week." 

wpe10.jpg (3680 bytes)
One of the funniest incidents I can recall is a French woman arriving a day or two after the arrival of the Nouveaux wines.  This was in 1998.  "Where are the Nouveaux, Gerald?" she inquired.
I pointed to the displays and she picked up a few bottles, looked at them and saw the vintage. 
"You have only the 1998?" she asked!

 

 

 

 


Beaujolais is the next level of "quality."  It can range all over the map, from pretty good to less-than-stellar. As noted, there are about 5,398 hectares of "simple" Beaujolais, but wines from other areas could be "declassified" to just this simple appellation.  In the past 20 years they've planted many sites which weren't planted because the quality would be marginal.   Of course, in the hands of a capable grower, you might find some drinkable wine.   In the hands of knuckleheads, bonne chance!  These wines, typically, require but a very modest sugar level at harvest-time.  Growers can over-crop and then try to rectify their "mistakes" by adding sugar to the juice. Keep in mind, too, that warmer growing seasons will aid growers in getting the grapes to a desired level of sugar.

 



Beaujolais-Villages is a higher designation, not only because the vineyard sites have historically produced higher quality fruit, but the potential alcohol content (related to the sugar content) at harvest must be a bit higher.  The mere factor of riper fruit isn't a guarantee of quality, but it ain't a bad idea, either.  The vineyards for this appellation cover 4,209 hectares presently.  The vineyards are typically on hillside sites and some of these are actually rather steep. This appellation accounts for 25% of the wine produced in Beaujolais.  Recent stats show about one-third is sold as "nouveau."



"Cru Beaujolais" are the wines from the ten best zones in Beaujolais.  The map at the top of this page shows the particular sites comprising those of the "cru Beaujolais" area.
Curiously, these wines often are over-looked by consumers searching for Beaujolais.   That's because the name of the "cru" is the only appellation to be found on the bottle.  The word or "category" of Beaujolais is not mentioned!
So, for example, someone wanting a top bottle from Beaujolais will overlook a wine labeled "Moulin-A-Vent" because it doesn't have the word "Beaujolais" anywhere on the bottle!
Though these can be bottled as early as December following the harvest, most quality producers do not bottle these until, at least, after Easter.  Some stay in large, rather neutral wood vats for an extended period of time. 

 



"LE TOP TEN":



BROUILLY & CÔTE de BROUILLY are the southernmost crus of the "heavy hitters."  Just to the west of Belleville (north of Villefranche), Brouilly encompasses some 1263 hectares, while the Côte de Brouilly covers some 323.   Brouilly is more sandy soil with some granite, with the Côte de Brouilly is predominantly granite.  Up on the hill of the Mont de Brouilly you can kneel down and pray at Notre Dame du Raisin (Our Lady of The Grape == here at Weimax, Ellen is "our lady of the grape").  Every year in early September there's a service to pray for the coming harvest. 


 
SAINT AMOUR
is the northernmost cru of the Beaujolais region and the perfect Valentine's Day accompaniment.  It's a 304 hectare appellation with granite, sand and clay.  Some say there's a violety, almost floral note to the fragrance of good Saint Amour wines.   Some people claim you can find a note of apricot fruit in these wines.  We typically find cherries, raspberries and a floral tone (which the locals describe as 'violets').

 

 



CHÉNAS is the smallest cru and is located adjacent to Moulin-a-Vent.   Confusingly, part of the commune of Chénas lies within the area of Moulin-à-Vent!   The wines with the Chénas appellation come from some 227 hectares of vines on granitic soil.  The wines sometimes show a mildly floral note and are often a bit astringent right after bottling, but don't seem to last quite as long as those from neighboring  Moulin-à-Vent. 

 



CHIROUBLES is just south of Fleurie and north of Morgon.  These tend to be the most delicate and short-lived of the "Top Ten."  The area covers some 850 acres and is the highest in elevation at about 400 meters.  The soil is granite and porphyry.  There's a monument of note in the town square at Chiroubles honoring one Victor Pulliat.  During the phylloxera plague in the 1800s, he was the first to graft the French vines onto disease-resistant American roots.  For that he is deserving of a toast, especially with a glass of Chiroubles!

 


FLEURIE
is said, by some, to be the main rival, quality-wise, to Moulin-à-Vent.  This appellation is located south of Moulin-à-Vent and covers some 810 hectares.  Granite soil.  Its wines are described as smelling of flowers, hence the name Fleurie. Look for hints of roses, violets and (some say) peony in these. They tend to be a bit lighter and less tannic than the famed Moulin-à-Vent.

 


JULIÉNAS is north of Chénas and takes its name from Julius Caesar.   You'll find 454 hectares of vines here on soil that's schist, clay and granite.   These usually are at their best within a year or two of the vintage, but it depends of the particular producer and the harvest.   These often have lots of red fruit notes.  Some detect even a hint of cinnamon, but we've not encountered that characteristic.  

 



MORGON is north of Brouilly & next to Regnie and its wines seem to vary from light and fruity to more deep and serious.  This cru comprises about 1127 hectares.  The soil is a crumbly slate which the locals call roche pourrie (rotten rock), but there are actually a couple of other diverse terroirs here.  Morgon from a particular site is held in slightly higher regard:  the Côte du Py.  This site is typically comprised of schist soils and its wine tend to be a shade more intense.  Another sub-region is Corcelette and there are many good bottles from that Morgon area.

 

MOULIN-À-VENT is the most prestigious Beaujolais cru.  The name comes from an old windmill,  somewhat of a symbol for Beaujolais in general and this cru in particular.  These tend to be a bit fuller in body and sometimes have more astringency than other Beaujolais wines.  The wines are said to be more "Burgundian" in style and with age, this is sometimes true.  Some 642 hectares comprise Moulin-à-Vent.  The soil is granite with manganese (in case you're keeping score).  Its wines are typically more costly and sometimes they warrant a premium price.  Sometimes.  

 

 



REGNIE  rounds out the Top Ten List.  It's the newcomer, being elevated in 1988 after something like a ten year study.  The region is west of Morgon and east of Beaujeu.  Its wines can be quite good...less full than a Moulin-à-Vent or Morgon, but sturdier than a Brouilly, for example.  We've had a top example from winemaker Jacky Gauthier...his seem to be routinely top class.

 

 

SOME BEAUJOLAIS WINES WE LIKE:

 

 


Jacky Gauthier..."Mister Beaujolais" as he's known to some of our customers...

 


DOMAINE DE COLETTE
Years ago I was visiting Beaujolais and we had a stop in the village of Lantignie as there was a really good Beaujolais being imported by a local firm.  This was in the days before Georges DuBoeuf was such a dynamo and we were treated to a taste of some older vintages...remarkable to see this usually frivolous wine could be cellared in some vintages with good results.

About 20 years later I'm visiting the region again in search of the Domaine de Colette estate since we've been enjoying a couple of Beaujolais wines from this property.  We're driving around the hill towns of Beaujolais and seeing the names of the top "cru" appellations and then, finally, we're at our destination.  It's right across the street from the place I'd been in the early 1980s!

The town is within the appellation of Régnié, a site highly-regarded by Beaujolais merchants, despite the fact that it was not included in the original classification of "crus" back in 1935.  At that time, nine villages were tabbed as "cru" wines, allowed to label their production not as mere Beaujolais-Villages, but with the name of the specific 'village' on the bottle.  It took a number of years for these 'seeds' to bear some fruit, but after the hot 1947 harvest, people started to pay a bit of attention to these precise appellation wines.  

Régnié remained under-the-radar, though negociant firms such as DuBoeuf's routinely paid a modest premium for wines from this locale.  In 1988 the  Régnié appellation took its place alongside its more famous neighbors as one of the top sites in Beaujolais.

The Regnie cru in Beaujolais is predominantly sand and granite, though a small percentage of the region is clay soil.  Though this winery is relatively new to us, they have rather old vineyards.  The youngest are 50 years old, ranging up to 80 years of age!

Jacky Gauthier and his wife Evelyne owns this small estate. I recall teasing them, some years ago, about Evelyne's father calling the winery and wondering why Jacky named the place after Colette.  "Shouldn't it be called Domaine de Evelyne?" I asked.  They explained the name Colette refers to the hilly vineyards, not some former girlfriend.  "But does Evelyne's dad call every so often just to hear if you're answering the phone 'Domaine de Evelyne' or if the place is still called 'Colette'?"

They think I'm "one bottle shy of a full case," I'm certain!

Monsieur Gauthier is proud of their hand-harvesting of the vineyards (mechanical harvesting has yet to be approved for Beaujolais, though I'm not sure you could pick by machine in these hilly vineyards).  This is noted on the label.

This 2018 vintage of Regnie is delicious! This comes from vines of 40+ years of age.  It's a medium-bodied Gamay with some dark fruit notes...we don't find it as strawberryish as some vintages.  Still, it's a good wine.  We enjoyed a bottle with some roasted duck...a good pairing, actually.  But this is a delightful wine with a variety of foods.  
 
 


We also have their regular bottling of 2019 Beaujolais-Villages...just a shade lighter, but still fantastically fruity and delicious!

A somewhat recent addition to the portfolio is the Fleurie.  It's a lovely bottle of Beaujolais, but somewhat more 'serious' compared to the youthfully exuberant Regnie and Beaujolais Villages.  The vines in Fleurie are about 50 years of age.  Jacky gives the wine about 8 or 9 days of skin contact before pressing the juice away.  Maybe 6 months in tank before bottling it and then it evolves in the bottle...the 2018 is quite good and teeming with fruit.

Currently in stock: 2018 Régnié  Old Vines $16.99
2019 Beaujolais-Villages $14.99
2018 Fleurie $19.99



Jacky Gauthier with his wife Evelyne and Pierre-Alexandre and his big sister, Amandine in 2006.

Here's a snapshot posted on their website in January of 2021:



Here's a nice photo of the kids some years ago...Mom and Dad had won a prize for the Beaujolais that year and here's little Pierre pouring wine for young Amandine.

DOMAINE DE CHÊNEPIERRE  (Christophe LaPierre)

This small estate is run by a young fellow whose grandfather launched this enterprise in 1944 with the purchase of some parcels of land in Moulin-à-Vent.  Then Christophe Lapierre's father Gérard bought some vines in nearby Chénas.  Christophe now has a few Chardonnay vines so he doesn't have to drink red wine...all the time.
 
We have a lovely, well-priced 2019 Moulin-à-Vent from this place.  

One of the secrets of the wine is they have an insane number of vines planted per hectare.  While most European vineyards clock in at 4000 to 5000 vines per hectare, this site is planted to 11,000 per hectare!  This means a lot more manual labor in the vineyard to work on so many vineyards.  
(We recall speaking with a friend in Italy where the owner had just planted a similar number of vines and he was ready to organize a mutiny of the small vineyard crew if the winery did not bring in a few more people to work the vineyards!)

Lapierre also farms sustainably, we're told and he says he prefers this in order to be in close communication with the vines.

The grapes are hand-harvested and about 20% is de-stemmed before the 10 day fermentation.  The wine goes into large wood for several months (5 to 10 depending on the vintage) after its fermentation.
 
 
The 2019 is a medium-bodied Beaujolais, with some intense cherry and raspberry-like fruit notes.  You might find a hint of a spice note here, too. We find it to be immediately drinkable and it's even more delicious thanks to its modest price.
 

Currently in stock:  2019 DOMAINE DE CHÊNEPIERRE Moulin-à-Vent  $19.99





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAYMOND BOULAND

 
Morgon can be one of the most interesting of Beaujolais wines.  There are numerous "Boulands" in the Beaujolais region.  This fellow's brother, Daniel, is probably the most famous, but Raymond's wine is exceptional and arrives here with much less fanfare and a more reasonable price.   

Raymond & Denise Bouland have been in the Beaujolais business since the 1975 vintage.  They have about 8 hectares of Gamay Noir, most in Morgon, but there's a tiny parcel in Fleurie, as well.
 

 
 


This part of the family takes care of eight hectares of vineyards, most of them lying within the Morgon appellation.  Raymond has a nice little cellar, but it's his brother who has the fermentation tanks and who vinifies the grapes.

I think the 2014 was our twelfth vintage from this little estate.

It's exceptional for both its quality and reasonable price.  Lots of strawberry notes and it's fairly deep on the palate.  

I've been very fond of their wine and was delighted to be able to stop in as I was passing through Beaujolais...Raymond and Denise were so thrilled to have someone come visit who lives more than 10 kilometers away from Corcelette, he opened a couple of "library bottles" in honor of the occasion...


Yes...2002 Morgon...a totally different wine than the young, fruity Beaujolais we know and love so well.

Then Raymond opened a seriously old bottle...a 1990 Morgon!

That's our friend Jean-Marc Borsotti (he runs the Midas muffler shop and auto repair shop in Macon and he's a big fan of good wines) tasting the 1990 vintage.

 

Currently in stock:  2014 Bouland Morgon Sold Out

 



On a gray day in Moulin-a-Vent, close to the Diochon cellar.

DIOCHON

This is a small, old domaine which had been run by the Diochon family until 2007.  Bernard Diochon sold the business to a fellow who'd been working for him for many years.

So, today Thomas Patenôtre, who also has another estate in Moulin-a-Vent,  runs the domaine.  

The young vines on the estate are said to be 50 years old.  The oldest parcels come close to the century mark.  

The fruit is hand harvested and they do not chaptalise the juice (no adding sugar).   The whole clusters are tank fermented and they'll pump over a couple of times daily during the nearly two week fermentation period.  The wine is then aged in large wood tanks for half a year, or so, before being bottled without fining or filtration.  

The 2018 shows some dark cherry fruit and a mildly earthy tone.  And the still is true to old man Diochon's tastes in that he liked the wine to have a touch of tannin while not being heavy.


It tastes like Beaujolais before they had electricity. 

Very nice now and it ought to continue to develop additional complexity with a few more years in the bottle.  We like it.


Currently in stock:  2018 DIOCHON Moulin-a-Vent $25.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIRON

Dominique Piron has expanded his little empire in the Beaujolais region and today he farms something like 45 hectares of vineyards.  He's viewed by most as a Morgon Meister, but Piron also does well with Regnie, Brouilly, Moulin-a-Vent and a special site in Chènas.

Chènas is a tiny cru, so it's not nearly as well-known as Morgon or Moulin-a-Vent.  It's also the highest elevation cru in Beaujolais.

Piron knew the owners of a parcel in Chènas and he was dying to get his hands on the fruit.  At the beginning he enlisted help from a friend who also made wine.  These days the label has the name of a hugely famous restaurant/inn near Beaujolais, that of Lameloise.

Piron's vineyards average about 50 years of age, one of the secrets in his making Beaujolais wines of such quality.



We had his Quartz in the shop some time ago...very charming!  We typically find Chènas wines to be on the lighter side, but this one was a more substantial wine and, who knows?  It may even grow a bit in the bottle.  Cherries, red berries...a lightly floral tone...medium-bodied and thoroughly delicious.

Currently we have Piron's 2019 Morgon from the Côte du Py.  It's a wine that displays elements of Beaujolais and youthful vitality, but there's an underlying Burgundian element, too.  In fact, you might hear someone use the term "pinoter," which means it behaves along the lines of Pinot Noir.  Even in its youth, you might detect a touch of forest-floor fragrances as you find in some red Burgundies.  This has the weight and body of a fuller-bodied wine, too.  No, it's not heavy, but it's bigger than typical Beaujolais.


Dominique Piron in 2002...

Currently in stock:  2019 PIRON MORGON "Côte du Py"  $26.99






 

 





KING GEORGES
duboeuf_beaujolais.gif (17747 bytes)This guy is the King of Beaujolais for a reason.  He sells something like thirty or so percent of the entire production from the region!  He has a large winemaking facility, but also buys finished wine.  They have a number of single domaine wines, as well.  I read recently that King Georges sells something like 30-million bottles of Beaujolais annually!

DuBoeuf is criticized by some for manipulating the wines too much.  Some say DuBoeuf tailors the wines to the market.  If a market prefers a wine of deeper color, DuBoeuf will oblige, for example.  I don't know if this true, but the wines are big fruit bombs, typically.
 
A few years ago the firm had some bad publicity when the fraud squad visited Duboeuf's winery and found some vats were not what they were supposed to be.  Apparently some slacker of a cellar rat has blended some inferior Beaujolais into some tanks containing "cru" Beaujolais.  Duboeuf explained that none of these wines actually were bottled, much less sold, so "no worries." 

More recently they were fined again by the government, this time for "enhancing" some batches of wine.  I'd read one account claiming DuBoeuf's production manager was ameliorating some lesser appellations of wine with better quality blending material.  This would, perhaps, make Duboeuf's wine more intense or deeper than the same appellation wines from his competitors.  The firm was fined again, though the Beaujolais growers' association has publicly defended Duboeuf.  

We had one of their cru Beaujolais wines in a blind-tasting in January of 2007.  This was a perfectly lovely wine, reminding me of a Beaujolais-styled Zinfandel a California winery made many years ago.  It was darker than the other wines in the tasting and it showed more blackberry notes than typical strawberryish Gamay aromas and flavors.  I could actually sense the wine was fussed with to make it more attractive to certain segments of the market.  And it did appeal to some tasters.

With the 2009 vintage, we included two domaine bottled wines.  Both were really good.  And they were a far cry from the soda-pop bottlings of Nouveau Beaujolais one sees from DuBoeuf every November.  


At one point the property belonged to a major Beaujolais luminary, Victor Peyret.
Victor, it seems, was a major ambassador of the wines from Juliénas back in the 1940s and 1950s.  He and another fellow would invite Parisian journalists, artists and performers to come visit.  Once there, the guests would be filled with copious quantities of the locally-made Beaujolais as they were wined and dined to excess.  As a result, Juliénas, in particular, became "the" favorite red wine of Parisians during this period.

Peyret is so esteemed, by the way, there's even a "Victor Peyret Award" which is given to someone who, like Peyret, does a lot to publicize or promote the wines of Juliénas!  

Georges DuBoeuf passed away in early 2020 at the age of 86.  He was a legendary fellow and the property passed to his son Franck in 2018.  They produce, or sell, well more than two million cases of wine annually.  We have not had their wines in the shop in over a decade.

Currently in Stock:  2009 DuBOEUF Juliénas "Chateau des Capitans"  Long Sold Out


 


MARCEL LAPIERRE
The Lapierre estate is quite famous amongst those proponents of organic farming and minimal interventionist winemaking.  

The family owns eleven hectares of Gamay vines and a small parcel is cultivated biodynamically and the rest is farmed organically.  They've been doing this for several decades, one reason they're so revered in the winemaking community.  
They've added a few more hectares of rented vineyards which they also farm.

The stated goal of the Lapierres is to work with "grape juice."  They don't add sulphur to the juice nor do they add yeast to ferment it.  They do not chaptalise either (add sugar to the juice).  No pump overs during fermentation and no punch-downs.  Minimalist.
When the wine is nearly finished fermenting, the Lapierres transfer it to seasoned oak barrels where it finishes its primary fermentation and where it undergoes its secondary fermentation.  The wine is then typically matured in wood for 9 months and at this point, still no SO2.  They offer their importers the option of adding a small dose of sulphur at bottling to preserve the wine. Filtration is another option. The Bay Area importer says their bottling is unfiltered and sans soufre (non-sulfited).

While some wine writers trumpet the virtues of this sort of enological philosophy, we can't say the wine is "superior" to others from Morgon, but it is distinctive and different and there is a particular character here.  Well worth trying, but you may find this to be different from today's typical fruit-basket wines from Beaujolais.
 
Currently in stock:  2009 MARCEL LAPIERRE "MORGON"  Sold Out
 

LOUIS JADOT
Probably one of the biggest surprises is finding a wine from Jadot which we liked.

In organizing a blind-tasting of Beaujolais wines, I splurged and bought a bottle of a wine from an estate we'd known back in the 1970s...Chateau des Jacques was a special wine in those days and for the sake of nostalgia, I decided to see what Jadot is doing with the property.  

They bought the estate in the mid-1990s.  It's a large property, comprising more than 60 acres of Gamay vines.  There are 5 enclosed vineyard parcels, Clos de Rochegrès being a 20 acre site situated in Moulin-A-Vent, close to Fleurie.  

The 2009 won our blind-tasting, though it is hardly a classic example of exuberantly fruity, carefree Beaujolais.  The reason for this lies in the vinification:  the wine was not traditionally fermented along the lines of Beaujolais.  Instead, they did a Burgundian vinification and produced a wine far more "serious" than simple Beaujolais.

Aging in a variety of French oak barrels adds a mildly woodsy note to the wine.  This wine merits a term one rarely ascribes to Beaujolais wines:  complexity.   And with this "serious" quality comes a serious price tag.  Despite its elevated price for a Beaujolais, the wine is actually reasonably priced for its quality.

The wines of Moulin-a-Vent are said to be cellar-worthy.  We have note tasted a more age-worthy bottling than this.

Currently in stock:  2009 JADOT "CHATEAU DES JACQUES" Moulin-a-Vent "Clos de Rochegrès" Sold Out

 

 

NOT FROM BEAUJOLAIS BUT MADE OF GAMAY

 


The Old Label from Angelot.


The 2021 label sold at the cellar door of Maison Angelot

 
MAISON ANGELOT
I don't think anyone has ever asked us for a wine from the appellation of Bugey.  

The region is rather obscure, being located in the Savoie region of France, east of Lyon and west of Geneva, Switzerland.  Well, finally we can claim to have some Savoie fare here with the arrival of this wine from Maison Angelot.  The primary red grapes are Mondeuse and Gamay, though they also grow Poulsard and Pinot Noir.  The major white grape is something called Chardonnay, though I haven't tasted one that's reminiscent of the wines from Burgundy.  

The Angelot brothers have about 57 acres of vines, split amongst numerous parcels and various grape varieties.  About four hectares' worth of Gamay produces this wine.  Their Gamay wine is much like the sort of Beaujolais one would find in a good French restaurant, served by the carafe.  It is delightful served lightly chilled as an accompaniment to chicken or other white meats.   The 2019 is as good as most simple Beaujolais wines, by the way.  

The residents of Bugey (they are not called "Buggers," incidentally) also like this wine with Raclette, fondue or an assortment of charcuterie.

The wine used to arrive here with its old, classic label (see above)...but importer Charles Neal met some members of a French rock band who were touring the US and one of them, in real life, is a designer of poster art in France...so Charles asked him to take a shot at a label which Monsieur Neal envisioned and, voila!  Here it is...
 

The fellow depicted on the label is the famous gastronome, Brillat-Savarin.  Monsieur Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was actually born in the mid-1700s some three miles from the Angelot cellars.  He was scholarly about law and cuisine and, at one point, was the mayor of his hometown./birthplace (you can't make this up...a culinary scholar being born in a town with a most ironic name!) Belley.  

Brillat-Savarin is credited with saying: "Tell me what you eat.  I will tell you what you are."  If you ever watched the old Japanese TV show Iron Chef, "Chairman Kaga" would recite this saying regularly.  

So Monsieur Neal's idea was to depict Brillat-Savarin enjoying a glass of this Savoie wine and encountering all these little red fruits in the Angelot Gamay.  Cherries and berries!

The grapes are de-stemmed and fermented along the lines of the typical Beaujolais fermentation.  It's a most enjoyable, chillable little red wine, a perfect picnic fare wine, but quite versatile in terms of everyday drinking.  It seems to hold up nicely in the 'fridge if you don't finish a bottle in one sitting.  You can keep it for several days.

That's a label which stands out in the shop!  Most people are attracted to it and the wine sells reasonably well and it's well-priced.
Currently in stock: Angelot 2019 Bugey Gamay $13.99  
 


CLUSEL-ROCH

A bit south of Beaujolais is the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon.  South of Lyon you'll be in the Northern Rhône where the famous wines such as Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage are grown.   

Clusel Roch is a small, family domaine which is famous for its lovely Côte-Rôtie and prestigious Condrieu wines.   For a number of years they've been making a good red wine, not of their beloved Syrah, but of Gamay!

The grapes come from a couple of vineyard sites north of the winery in Ampuis, but a few miles south of Lyon.  The appellation is the Côteaux du Lyonnais and this is a pet project for Guillaume Clusel, son of Gilbert Clusel and Brigitte Roch.  He's rented a few hectares of vines in this area and is making a wine that tastes like a Gamay made by a Syrah vintner.

It's less fruity than many Beaujolais wines and it's a shade brawnier, so you might compare it with Piron's Morgon (listed above).  There's a Syrah-like gamey note to this wine...very pleasant and worth trying.

"Traboules," by the way, are passageways in old Lyon which allowed (and still allows) people to navigate their way around that part of town.  You can explore these on your own or take part in a guided tour of Traboules next time you're in Lyon.  Or, you can enjoy this "Traboules" from the comfort of your own home.
 

Currently in stock:  2019 CLUSEL "TRABOULES" Gamay  Côteaux du Lyonnais  $18.99

 

 

BERNARD RONDEAU

When our friend and wine importer Charles Neal mentioned bringing over a curious wine from the French Alps that was made from Gamay and bubbly like an Italian spumante and sweet and pink we figured the poor fellow was out of his mind.

This is a most frivolous bottle of wine...it's made in a region well east of Lyon in the Alps but in a locale that's neither the Jura nor the Savoie. We trekked there this past winter and found ourselves pretty much in France's version of the "middle of nowhere." Cell phones don't work there and the few souls who inhabit this landscape must be hermits, for when we asked various folks where the winery of Bernard Rondeau was located, virtually nobody had heard of the fellow!
 
 

A bottle of Rondeau's wine "in progress."
Rondeau has tanks similar to those we see in Italy's Piemonte at wineries producing Moscato d'Asti. He employs a similar sort of vinification in producing this simple VDQS (Vin Delimitée Qualité Supérieur) called Bugey Cerdon or Cerdon de Bugey. The resulting wine is pink in color and it's fruity and sweet. When we visited Bernard and his lovely wife Marjorie, they brought out a plate of fried bread dusted with powdered sugar. We've since enjoyed this wine at home with red fruit desserts.
 


The wine is made about 40 minutes' drive from Bourg-en-Bresse, a town famed for its chickens. We drove to a fancy restaurant near there for dinner with the Rondeaus and were pleased to see Poulet de Bresse on the menu. Unfortunately, it has to be ordered two days before. Those chickens must be tough to catch!

 


Currently in stock: BERNARD RONDEAU "BUGEY CERDON" $18.99 

 


This is dangerous!  And delicious...


 

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