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Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Beaujolais GTi post your notes here!

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 1, 2009.

For the first 2 weeks of June it'll be Beaujolais time here at Snooth.

These are red wines perfectly suited for the transition into Summer.

I am curious what you think about Beaujolais and what your favorite wines are so share your secrets with us!

I'll add some notes in the coming days.

Who's first to post?

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Replies

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Reply by gregt, Jun 2, 2009.

Beaujolais is a great and under-appreciated area. Because of the popularity of the Beaujolais nouveau in the fall, the area has been mistakenly tagged as an area of cheap, uncomplicated wine. However, the cru Beaujolais can be as complex and compelling as great wine from anywhere. In aging, they take on a profile similar to that of Burgundy, but they mature much faster and cost much less. They represent some of the greatest values in quality red wines on the market.

And I have stuff to post, wondering where to post it.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 2, 2009.

For some more information, look at the description on the Snooth page under Wine Regions - France - Beaujolais.

http://www.snooth.com/region/france/

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 2, 2009.

Well done sir!

That should be posted here as it's own thread too. If anyone wants to know a bit more about Beaujolais Greg's write up is a must read!

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Reply by Philip James, Jun 3, 2009.

GregT - great writeup.

We have region pages on Beaujolais as well as all the Village Cru's:
http://www.snooth.com/region/france...
- you can get to the specific Cru's from this page

There's also a page on the grape used to make Beaujolais wines - Gamay:
http://www.snooth.com/varietal/gamay/

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Reply by gregt, Jun 4, 2009.

But Phillip, I would have written about gamay if that's what you guys wanted!

Sigh. I guess I just need to stick to Spain and Hungary.

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Reply by Philip James, Jun 4, 2009.

No need to sigh - all contributions most welcome!

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Reply by Adam Levin, Jun 4, 2009.

So what's the difference between Gamay and Gamay Noir?

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Reply by gregt, Jun 4, 2009.

For all practical purposes they're the same. There was a grape called gamay blanc, also from the Burgundy/Beaujolais area in France, and that name was even applied to chardonnay in some places, but there's not much gamay blanc grape around. I can't recall ever seeing a bottling of it in the US frankly. At any rate, most people have never heard of it and the word gamay is generally used instead of gamay noir to mean the same grape.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jun 4, 2009.

This is a great opportunity for getting better acquainted with Beaujolais.

I heard that Pinot Noir and Gamay are pretty similar. Can anyone describe what I might be able to expect in general when comparing the two?

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 4, 2009.

Sorry if I'm in a particularly acerbic mood today, Mark, but the difference between a Hyundai and a BMW? Others will be able to offer gentler, more fleshed-out comparisons, I'm sure... ;-)

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Reply by gregt, Jun 4, 2009.

Funny comparison, maybe an element of truth, but still . . .

For the most part, PN gets all the respect. Perhaps that's deserved in the case of the great wines. But it's very easy to find crappy PN that is overpriced and not particularly brilliant at all. Because Americans are willing to buy "Burgundy", some producers there are quite willing to take advantage of our label consciousness and they'll sell stuff that frankly, isn't good. When it's good, Pinot Noir is a fabulous grape that can evolve into something remarkable. In the US there is a trend to make it big and dark and ripe and those wines can be enjoyable, but I don't have any idea what they will turn into.

Gamay is always belittled and has no respect, but if you find a good producer and age the wine, you get something very similar to a good Burgundy for a fraction of the price. And because the grape matures faster, you don't have to wait so long. Ten years on a Beaujolais and you're getting the aromas and flavors of a mature wine. For a fraction of what a Burg would cost. Are they the same? No. But in terms of interest and pleasure, the well-chosen Gamay comes out ahead IMO.

Both tend to be lighter grapes in that they don't have thick skins with lots of color and tannin. But again, in CA they're getting the grape to a point it's not known for reaching. The wine from PN can be "grapey" much like Welch's, or it can be earthy and leathery and mushroomy, or it can be a big thick purple thing like some of the new ones from CA. Gamay is usually somewhere on the red-fruit spectrum, without the dark color and deep tannins of some other grapes. Depending on how it's fermented, it can have a bright fruity note or a funky, earthy note. In terms of body weight, it's not unlike PN.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jun 5, 2009.

@GregT, great response, thanks. That's very helpful. I find a few of the PN wines from California to be less to my liking, especially those made in warmer climes. Particularly when it comes out grapey, juicy and sweet I tend to get disappointed because I'm looking for something with more of the sticky tar flavors I prefer.

@dmcker, while less helpful, that's pretty funny.

I'd better get to tasting some Gamay and find out for myself, too.

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 5, 2009.

GregT, very good exposition. Though I was in a funkily ascerbic mood, as mentioned, I also was hoping to spur some discussion, which you perfectly provided.

I am a Beaujolais fan, from way back, though I've tended to be disappointed by New World examples of Gamay that I've tried (and thus I don't try it very frequently anymore, so I'll be interested to see any examples of good New World gamay that show up in the other Greg's current tasting initiative). In the early '80s I even enjoyed Nouveau releases when they came out, though the escalating prices and hype turned me off, and away from something that never should have been considered anything other than simple, joyous harvest festival juice. Rodet was my favorite negociant for Nouveau at that time.

Since then I've continued to enjoy Fleuries and Morgons and Moulin-a-Vents and Julienas and other appelations within the region, preferably a bit aged as GregT mentioned so they can take on a Burgundian silkiness. I like them not only for their better price when compared to pinot noirs from the Cote d'Or, but for the floral (violets, roses, even a lavender note) and fruity (apricots, peaches, nectarines) aromas that many of their bottles surprise me with--something different from what I get with pinot noir.

Since gamay's supposedly a cross between pinot noir and the ancient white varietal gouais, it will naturally be similar. The snobbishness regarding it that I played on in my analogy above, however, is historically deeprooted. I believe Phillipe the Bold banned the grape from his Duchy of Burgundy back in the 14th century, calling it a 'very bad and disloyal plant' because it took up land better used for the cultivation of the more regal pinot noir. And while I've very much enjoyed literally thousands of bottles of Beaujolais in my drinking lifetime, I don't see any gamay bottle reaching close to the sublime perfection of the best Cotes de Nuits pinot noir...

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Reply by Philip James, Jun 5, 2009.

My first notes from the recent Beaujolais tasting. First trio of 12 wines in total, moving roughly South to North:

Chateau de Pizay Beaujolais 2007
http://www.snooth.com/wine/chateau-...
"Slightly hot nose, with flavors of cherry and a light leathery-ness. In the mouth the wine is mineral with bright strawberry fruits. Finishes on clear quartz minerals. 3.5"

Château Du Chatelard Beaujolais-Villages Vielles Vignes 2007
http://www.snooth.com/wine/beaujola...
"Dustier nose than the Chateau de Pizay Beaujolais 2007. Gamey with deep plummy fruit aromas. Tobacco flavors in the mouth with a tart tannic finish. 2.5"

Pierre Chermette Vissoux Beaujolais Brouilly 2007
http://www.snooth.com/wine/vissoux-...
"Musty animal nose leading to a big wine with lots of tannins. Black cherry and violet notes come through, but the wine is still a little tight - give it 6 months, or decant. Dry finish with robust tannins and lingering flavors of cured meats. 4/5"

Pierre Chermette Vissoux Beaujolais Brouilly 2007 the clear winner of this trio for me.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 5, 2009.

dmcker - do you live in NYC? Do I know you? Seems worthwhile to get together!

Phillip - Pierre Chermette is one of my favorites. But Fleurie, not Brouilly!!! Anyhow, a great producer and a perfect example of what Beaujolas can do. Thank God most people don't know or the prices would be much higher.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 6, 2009.

We did in fact have the Vissoux Brouilly and it was fantastic!

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 6, 2009.


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Reply by gregt, Jun 6, 2009.

No doubt. Great producer. I just don't know the Brouilly as well.

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 6, 2009.

Sleek bottle, too.

And thanks, GregT, for the invite to a drink in Manhattan. Unfortunately, while still in the same (northern) hemisphere, I'm kinda on the other side of the world, in Tokyo for the time being, with no current plans to visit NYC. Will look forward to it, when the opportunity arises, however!

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 8, 2009.

I second Greg, the taller's, hence the T :-), invitation.

When you find yourself on the East Coast we have to get together and enjoy too much fine wine.

Just for the heck of it here are my notes on the first 2 flights from last Thursday.

Flight 1

Chateau de Pizay Beaujolais 2007
http://www.snooth.com/wine/chateau-...
A bit stemmy-spicy on the nose with hints of earth, roses and a marshmallow edge. Soft pure raspberry fruit and nice zesty acidity make this a nice basic Beaujolais and a light red perfect for serving with a chill this summer. 85pts

Château Du Chatelard Beaujolais-Villages Vielles Vignes 2007
http://www.snooth.com/wine/beaujola...

Coming from gentle hills with a bit of rocky terrain this smoky, tobacco scented Beaujolais Villages is a step up from simple Beaujolais. This is a bit mineral toned on the palate with a bit of forced, extracted tannin that adds a touch of bitterness to the otherwise dried herbal, strawberry flavors. I bit too inky and blocky for my palate. 83pts


Pierre Chermette Vissoux Beaujolais Brouilly 2007
http://www.snooth.com/wine/vissoux-...

Brouilly is the largest Cru in Beaujolais. Chermette produces natural wines and this is a beauty! A bouquet full of violets, crystallized black raspberry, rich forest soil, and aromatic candle wax leads to a gorgeous palate full of sweet fruit. This is wonderfully precise with great balance and a tense crisp, tannic note that frames the wonderfully transparent fruit. On the long finish a hint of medicinal herbs adds depth to the fruit and finale return of violets. Beaujolais doesn't get much better than this. 92pts

Flight 2

2007 Domaine des Terres Dorees Jean-Paul Brun Cotes de Brouilly
http://www.snooth.com/wine/cote-de-...

The Cotes de Brouilly are located within Brouilly, on old volcanic slopes and generally produce deep, dark fruit.

This is decidedly herbal and stemmy on the nose with medicinal floral tones and hints of green peppercorn and juniper. Rich and well balanced in the mouth with noticeable fruit tannin balanced by a nice acid spine. Some woodsy notes recall the nose and are joined by black berry and black currant fruit. This finishes with a touch of ricola and is bit shorter than I would like but is complex and complete. 88pts

2007 Thenevet Grain & Granite Regnie
http://www.snooth.com/wine/charly-t...

Regnie is the youngest Cru of Beaujolais, dating from 1988 but is part of the historic home of Beaujolais.

This has superb aromatics with balsamic, candlewax tones almost verging on eucalyptus with a roast meaty edge and layers of intense and complex violet pastille and wild berry fruits. This smells like old vines. This has big weight but is not weighty do to the incredible balance and precision that makes for lovely depth of fruit with a raspberry, slight roasted strawberry tone yet crystal clear transparency. I love the quality of the tannins here, they are soft and like flannel, read more...mouthfilling. A nice mineral wash clenses the palate and leads to a long finish that ends with a wild strawberry flourish. This is simply great Beaujolais! 94pts

2007 Marcel Lapierre Morgon

http://www.snooth.com/wine/marcel-l...

Morgon produces rich, earthy wine that can easily be mistaken for Burgundy. Lapierre is a great biodynamic producer. This offers up notes of beet roots, dusty earth, anise and aggressive herb and medicinal notes. With a very light, natural and elegant in the mouth this is refreshing but quite herbal and almost vegetal on the palate with a decided green streak and some granitic minerality but not much fruit. 84pts

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