As one moves through the Beaujolais region the terrain changes from relatively rich alluvial flood plain of the South with its layers of sand, clay, and limestone yielding to the gentle Southeast facing slopes of the North where soils are poorer and feature pockets of granite and schist. These poorer soils and the great drainage these slopes offer set the product of these Northern vineyards apart from their Southern neighbors. The cru Cote de Brouilly is the one obvious Southern exception, with vineyards positioned on the slopes of a long extinct cinder cone.
The more challenging climates, as the French call mesoclimates such as these, are responsible for some of the greatest expressions of Beaujolais. Many of these vineyards defy our expectations for Beaujolais, producing wines that improve with age and reveal deep mineral notes that are more akin to the terroir of the Rhone than that of neighboring Burgundy.
We tasted just a handful of aged examples of Beaujolais recently at Snooth. A report on that event can be found here. From our recent tasting of current release wines I found several Beaujolais that promise to reward time in the cellar and yet cost a mere fraction of most wines of this quality. They are certainly worth stashing in the cellar to see what develops!
2007 Thenevet Grain & Granite Regnie
While much Regnie has rather sandy soil, the "Grain" on the label, this particular plot that is the source for this Thevenet is also rich in granite. This offers up exceptional aromatics with great richness on the palate but the incredible balance of this wine makes this superb wine deceptively easy to drink. A great Beaujolais.
2007 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie
In Fleurie we find more granitic soils that produce a more masculine style of wine, full of plush, deep fruit that takes a couple of years in the cellar to peak. This feels a touch closed at first but has mouthwatering acid and hints of bright red currants and iron. With youthful tannins that remain a touch stiff and a touch of almond nuttiness that offers contrast to the rich fruit, this is packed with promise.
2007 Domaine de Billards Barbet St. Amour
From the northern reaches of the region and vineyards rich in clay and flint, this is fairly powerful yet transparent and really succulent. With wonderfully precise fruits that lean to the black cherry, black currant end of the spectrum. The long refreshing finish full of almost gamy wild fruits is simply delicious.
When many people discuss Beaujolais for the cellar they inevitably fall back on the M's. That is to say that the communes of Moulin a Vent, and Morgon, with its 5 distinct sub regions.
While no discussion of ageable Beaujolais would be complete without these two areas being mentioned, I thought it was time to expand the scope of the conversation by showing you that great Beaujolais comes from many of the Crus, and not necessarily just the most famous! Be curious, be adventuresome, and be willing to try something new. Beaujolais for all seasons and all seasons for Beaujolais! For more information come join our Beaujolais discussion in the Snooth forum!