Why Drink Beaujolais Nouveau When You Could Drink These?

It’s mid-October, which means that soon it will be November, and that means that in a month or so we’re going to start seeing ads, again, just like every year, for Beaujolais Nouveau. And you know what? Don’t bother.

It’s mid-October, which means that soon it will be November, and that means that in a month or so we’re going to start seeing ads, again, just like every year, for Beaujolais Nouveau. And you know what? Don’t bother. Skip it. Beaujolais Nouveau, in large measure, is just uninteresting wine backed by a massive marketing campaign. Buy some cru Beaujolais instead.

Beaujolais’s 10 crus (villages, essentially, and the vineyards surrounding them) represent the best that Beaujolais has to offer. North to south they are St. Amour, Julienas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côtes de Brouilly. As in the rest of the region, these wines are made from the Gamay grape, but producers here tend to be more ambitious, and top Beaujolais crus offer some of the best value for your money that you can find in the world of red wine.

I recently tasted 15 cru Beaujolais in the F&W tasting room. Below are my five favorites from the lineup:

2012 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly ($20)
Claude Geoffray, whose family has owned this 14th century estate since 1877, produces a classic Côte de Brouilly, with crisp blueberry notes and a hint of spearmint.

2013 Georges Duboeuf Chateau des Deduits Fleurie ($20)
Duboeuf does indeed makes oceans of Beaujolais Nouveau. But he also produces a line of remarkably good single-estate cru bottlings that are well worth seeking out. If you can’t find this lightly peppery Fleurie, his Domaine de Rosiers Moulin-à-Vent is also impressive.

2012 Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent Cuvée Vieilles Vignes ($20)
Vines over 50 years old, located just below the windmill that gives Moulin-à-Vent its name, provide the fruit for this savory, raspberry-scented wine. (Also, if you're looking for an affordable wine that also will develop over time in a cellar, this one is a great choice.)

2013 Clos de la Roilette Cuvee Tardive ($25)
Wines from Fleurie are known for distinctive floral notes, but this property, right against the border with Moulin-à-Vent, seems to acquire some of that cru’s dark-berried richness as well.

2012 Julien Sunier Régnié ($25)
In a very short time, Sunier has become a star producer for cru-Beaujolais-loving sommeliers (of whom there are quite a few). No surprise, especially given wines like this fragrant, incredibly vivid wine—its flavor recalls wild raspberries plucked straight from the bush.

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