First stop was Chat. de Pizay which was tasting Morgon (my favorite), as well as Chiroubles, and Chenas. All 4 estates were tasting Beaujolais-Villages and Beaujolais. Each offered a free lunch as well. The whole program was very professionally organized. I was even interviewed for a customer service survey before I left for the day. I tasted (spit) MANY wines and have notes on all of them, but a few that stood out are listed below. There is no way I could have visited all 160 wineries represented.
Next stop was Chat. De Corcelles (see photo) which was tasting Moulin-a-Vent (the famous windmill), Julienas, and Saint Amour. I also had lunch here and fell in love with another cheese (they had at least 10 to sample) from Touraine which was a chevre in a long log with a pole in the middle and sprinkled with gray ash. It melted in your mouth. Lunch was a stand-up affair as is common at professional tastings, but as it was in France, it was quite good – salad, duck, pates, desserts, etc.
I then drove around to see the villages of Morgon, Fleurie (where I stopped at the church to light a candle), Brouilly, and Moulin-a-Vent. The whole area is like stepping into a picture book – rolling hills covered with tiny tightly spaced grapevines and charming villages with friendly people. I want to go back on a sunny day.
The next chateau was des Ravatys with its orangery where they were tasting Brouilly and Cote-de Brouilly. It was here that I was able to really tell the difference between the two. Brouilly is much lighter and fruitier, whereas Cote-de-Brouilly is more intense and concentrated. In fact, I met a lovely gentleman at Chat. De Corcelles who gave me his personal tasting scheme on the Beaujolais Cru which I found to be completely accurate. He classified them into 3 categories:
Level 1: - Light and Fruity. To be enjoyed as a glass of wine without food: Brouilly, Chiroubles, and Regnie
Level 2: Medium intensity with fruit. To be enjoyed alone or with small food bites. Cote de Brouilly, Julienas, Fleurie, Saint-Amour
Level 3: Big, intense, more tannic and earthy. Must drink with food: Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Chenas.
I also found the vintages quite different. 2007 is fruity and concentrated; 2006 is still tight and rather tart (should age well); 2005 is an excellent vintage with complex flavors and a long finish. Many people think Beaujolais will only last 1 to 3 years, but some of the crus I tasted were fermented only semi-carbonic and then fermented in a regular fashion, as well as aged in oak. They were quite different from the bubble-gum Nouveau Beaujolais that is primarily represented in the market. Also tasted some lovely chardonnays and roses.
A few wineries I really enjoyed:
· Chat.de Belleverne (not in US market yet) – offered a fresh, fruity 2007 St Amour, an intensely cherry 07 Julienas, and a wonderful big, highly structured Moulin a Vent 2007.
· Jambon Martine et Guenauel – Morgon, Cote du PY 2006 – big, dusty traditional wine that I loved. Also had some 80 year old semi-carbonic with barrel aging that was huge and concentrated.
· Christian Dix Vin Beaujolais – nice 2007 rose; excellent 2006 Morgon and Chiroubles from old vines with a long finish.
· P. Ferraud et Fils – really liked their 2006 Moulin-a-Vent with good structure, tannins, and long finish.
· Domaine de Bel-Air 2006 Brouilly – a classic with pretty fruit, floral and nice acid. Very feminine and refreshing.
· Chat. Pierreux – 2006 Mommessin – big concentrated Brouilly. Seemed more like the Cote rather than Brouilly.
· Finally, Beaujolais from Cave du Bois d’Oingt where I spoke with the winemaker who introduced me to his range of wines with very attractive labels (at least for the US and UK market). All of the wines were good – from the refreshing and perfumed 2006 chardonnay, to the strawberry-nosed rose to the 2006 La Rose Poupre, which was aged 7 months in oak with complex flavors, spice and a long finish.