The theme of the November session was, of course, the Beaujolais wines. Host: Chez Bill et Rose.
Thursday 17 November was simply the perfect date to host this November session of Le TasteVin. Indeed, the third Thursday of November is the official launch date of the Beaujolais Nouveau.
The wine is strictly speaking, more properly termed Beaujolais Primeur. By French and European rules, a wine released during the period between its harvest and a date in the following spring, is termed primeur. A wine released during the period between its own and the following years harvest, is termed nouveau.
LOCATED SOUTH OF BURGUNDY PROPER, between Mâcon and Lyon, Beaujolais is a prosperous region. Beaujolais comes from the name of the village "Beaujeu".
Cultivating almost 55,000 acres, more than the three departments of Burgundy combined, it produces an average of 13 million cases annually. Best of all, once a year, when the world falls in love with Beaujolais Nouveau, nearly half of this crop is pressed, fermented, racked, fined, filtered and sold within weeks. The rapid cash flow generated is the envy of winemakers everywhere.
This 34-mile strip along the Saône River, comprises the 4th department, Rhône, of the Burgundy region.
Beaujolais is diverse geographically, but it is unified by the Gamay Noir grape. Ninety-eight percent of the area is planted with it. The other 2% is basically planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Unlike Bordeaux, there are no large properties in Beaujolais. The system, called "vigneronnage," consists of hundreds of small to medium sized properties on which the grapes are grown. Most of these grapes are purchased by Négociants who make and market the wines.
Beaujolais is comprised of 12 appellations and is divided into Haut- and Bas-Beaujolais. This division is based on distinctions in the soil of each area. The valley of the River Nizerand, just north of the regional capital of Villefranche, is the dividing point. South of the river is the flat plains of Bas-Beaujolais. The soil here is rich and mostly limestone/clay with occasional sandy patches. The soil produces more quantity than quality.
North of the River Nizerand is Haut-Beaujolais. The hilly topography here has a lighter granite and schist based sandy soil and thus makes a better wine. It is in Haut-Beaujolais that you will find the Beaujolais-Villages appellation and the Beaujolais Grands Crus.
Beaujolais has the warm summers and cool winters indicative of a temperate climate. Snow is common in the winter as a result of its proximity to the Massif Central Mountains to the west. The hills of Beaujolais do provide some protection from the cold and rain generated in these mountains, but in late summer, hail storms are an all too frequent threat to the growers.
Here is a map of the Beaujolais region:
The various "appelations" Beaujolais are the Beaujolais AOC, the Beaujolais Villages AOC and the 10 Beaujolais Grands Crus. The Grand Crus are located in the Haut Beaujolais: Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly, Morgon, Chiroubles, Moulin a Vent, Julienas, Fleurie, Saint Amour, Chenas and Regnie. There is also a Beaujolais Blanc.
Wine list of the month:
Milesime, Colour, AOC/Terroir, Domain/Cave, Price
2004, Red, Beaujolais, Tracot - Dubost, 8.20 Euros
2004, Red, Coteaux du Lyonnais, -, 4.80 Euros
2004, Red, Julienas, -, 11.30 Euros
2004, Red, Moulin a Vent, -, 10.40 Euros
2005, Beaujolais Nouveau, George Duboeuf, Romaneche-Thorins, -- Euros
2005, Beaujolais Nouveau, La reserve du Maitre de Chais de Pizay, Societe des Vins de Pizay, -- Euros
All based on Gamay grapes.
Cheese list of the month:
- Saint Felicien
- Chaource (sec)
- Picodon (fromage de chevre)
- Sachon du Drome