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Sunday, 3 March 2013

BoJo-Lé

Unrelated to London's Mayor, Beaujolais is the southernmost region of Burgundy, located closer to the Rhône than to Chablis and is traditionally associated with the rather naff Beaujolais nouveau.

The word often used to characterise Beaujolais is uncomplicated - easy-going, light and fruity wines.

Beaujolais itself is a 45-mile long stretch of mainly granite hills just south of Macon - prices tend to be high, not least historically because of Swiss demand for these wines from just across the border.

Here are five wines from the area that I was sent for review - they are all charming and well made, but you should expect to pay a bit more for Beaujolais than for a less-classic region.

White

Almost all Beaujolais is red and from the Gamay grape, but there are small amounts of white Beaujolais from Chardonnay.

Arnaud Aucoeur, Beaujolais Villages Blanc 2011 (Yapp Brothers, £11.95)
Canteloup and honeydew melon fruit on the nose, the palate shows ripe melon fruit, a touch of thick-skinned toastiness and some old-vine leesy savouriness. It feels well balanced, very pleasant and well-made.

What's here is good; the only minor complaint is that, for me, Chardonnay does best in a cooler climate and here in the warm south feels a little lacking in precision and acidic structure.

I find this a bit smiley and sweet-faced - as well-behaved and unchallenging as the girl-next door, but with a bit of a big bottom and muffin top.

However, this may just be me; Henry Jeffreys, Alex Layton and the staff at Yapp are all more appreciative of its curvaceous nature.

Red

Morgon is the longest-lasting of the Beaujolais Crus and the best come from the slopes of the Cote du Py

Jean-Marc Burgaud, Cote du Py Morgon 2010 (The Wine Society, £11.95)
Translucent purple in the glass, some black cherry, spice and old leather / farmyardiness on the nose. Ripe black cherry fruit on the palate, a touch of smokiness and good, precise acidity with firm tannins.

The texture is soft and smooth with a savoury persistence and good finish.

Elegant, adept and classy.

Ch Thivin, Les Grottes de Bulhie, Cote de Brouilly 2009 (The Wine Society, £16)
From the lower slopes of Mont Brouilly, the wines are generally deeper in colour and fruit. An unusually deep plum purple colour, there is dark fruit, stewed plums, warming roasted spices and a touch of woodsiness on the nose.

On the palate, there is red and black cherry fruit, some vanilla sweetness, a touch of pepperiness and a lovely rasp of sour-cherry acidity - long on the palate, it feels complex and mouthfilling with soft-yet-firm tannins.

Very well-made and interesting, a really lovely wine.

Domaine Alain Chatoux 2011 (Berry Bros & Rudd, £10.95)

Translucent purple in the glass, aromas of violets, red peppercorns, a touch of undergrowth and soft red fruits on the nose.

Pure cherry fruit and fresh, mouthwatering sour-cherry acidity on the palate, with some old-vine savouriness.

The palate is long palate and the finish balanced - charming and very accomplished.

Julien Sunier Fleurie 2010 (Roberson, £18.95)
Translucent purple in the glass, on first pouring the sweet vanilla dominates and whilst the ambition is clear, it is not yet harmonious.

It develops noticeably over dinner but it is only on the following day that it starts to balance out.

A complex nose of spice, woodsy earthiness and black cherry fruit - more Pinot than Gamay.

The palate is elegant and long with black cherry fruit, sweet vanilla and notes of bitter green herbs. Lovely fruit expression and gentle-yet-precise acidity; gentle, firm persistence on the finish.

Unusually for a Beaujolais, I'd be inclined to cellar this for a bit longer to achieve harmoniousness, but even now (with aeration) it is quietly sophisticated and accomplished.

Food matches
Chardonnay is perhaps the world's most versatile food wine, so match with the usual fish, chicken or mild cheeses.

At a different time of year, all the reds would suit light autumnal game dishes such as cured duck breast or venison terrine, or work as perfect picnic wines.

Recommended Wine

These are all very well-made wines and choices come down perhaps as much to personal preference; for me, the most enjoyable wines here were the Thivin and the Chatoux for the lovely acidity.

Other related articles
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2010‏
Wine in Threes (Louis Jadot Chateau Des Chaques)

Main image credit: BoJo Selecta http://www.sabotagetimes.com/people/bojo-selecta/

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