How cru Beaujolais is reshaping the reputation of Burgundy’s most overshadowed wine region By Timothy Gels
Affordable quality pinot noir from Burgundy is hard to come by. In fact, many consider it to be a herculean task. But there is hope for pinot noir enthusiasts in the form of cru Beaujolais. Made from the gamay grape, cru Beaujolais is grown in the Beaujolais region, south of Burgundy’s Côte D’Or. Gamay is known for its apparent fruitiness resulting from carbonic maceration, a whole-grape fermentation method that accentuates bright, light fruitiness. At its best, the grape makes a light- to medium-bodied wine that closely resembles many of the characteristics and flavors of Burgundian pinot noir, but without the same tannin structure and complexity. A top example of cru Beaujolais is less expensive than even the cheapest examples of high-end Burgundy pinot noir.
It is important to note that cru Beaujolais should not be confused for the notorious Beaujolais Nouveau, a fruity, bright, overly simple wine that is available for consumers only five to six weeks after harvest. Cru Beaujolais is the highest quality wine made from the gamay grape, followed by the mid-range quality of Beaujolais Villages, then the basic quality of Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau. The wines are made from the highest classification for vineyards in the region, based around seven villages and three other sites (Brouilly, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Saint-Amour, Régnié, Chénas, Juliénas, Fleurie, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent), which are prized for their exceptional quality. Because of this distinct vineyard quality, cru Beaujolais wines are far more complex and intriguing than any other form of wine made from the gamay grape.
Cru Beaujolais is a serious red wine, combining its fruitiness with soft tannins, well-balanced acidity and refreshing earthiness. Flavors run from cherry and cranberry to plum and blackberry. Most cru Beaujolais is not age worthy, but the Moulin-à-Vent vineyard is famous for its ageability and can make long-lived wines. A great example of this is the 2015 Couvent des Thorins from Château du Moulin-à-Vent now available at 45 Central. This wine is sourced from 40-year-old vines from the lower areas of the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, around terroirs that produce bigger berries with more freshness. It is aged for 15 months in 90 percent French oak from Allier and Vosges forests. The result is a light, slightly earthy bouquet with a medium body and with supple ripe tannins. According to Gillian Sciaretta of the Wine Spectator magazine, the 90 points 2015 Couvent des Thorins is “Nicely crafted and focused, with a profile of cherry, ripe currant and anise flavors underpinned by tangy floral and spice details. Juicy, showing grippy tannins on the mineral-laced finish.”
Moving into the fall, this delicious, refreshing red wine is the perfect choice for this beautiful Florida weather and will please just about any wine enthusiast’s palate. It also pairs shockingly well with a wide array of foods, including seafood. Basically, it’s hard to go wrong with the 2015 Couvent des Thorins. Don’t hesitate to come by 45 Central to try a glass of this exceptional example of cru Beaujolais.