Georges Duboeuf is reknowned for his role in the popularization of Beaujolais wines. Most consumers associate Beaujolais with Beaujolais Nouveau
, and now every third Thursday of November is “Beaujolais Nouveau Day,” a day Georges himself launched nearly single handedly. But the success of Beaujolais Nouveau has often overshadowed the rest of the wines of the region which offer some of the most pleasurable and best value drinking there is. So when Georges and his son Franck Duboeuf were in NYC recently we took the opportunity to taste through the 2011 vintage of the Beaujolais Crus with the master.
Beaujolais wines are a generally made from 100 percent Gamay grapes and the Crus come from top tier of vineyards and harvest in the Beaujolais region. There are 10 Crus in Beaujolais: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour. Most of the Crus are named after the village from which they are grown and harvested — although Moulin-à-Vent takes it's name from a local windmill. In general, Beaujolais wines are defined by their distinct fruit and berry flavors and are very food friendly.
According to the senior Duboeuf “A vintage is the story of a lifetime. 2011 was a great year. Budding started in April, then flowering started in June." The harvest was early, beginning on "August 22nd, a beautiful sunny day with lots of heat. The grapes were healthy with good residual sugar and a beautiful redness." 2009 had been his favorite vintage thus far, but 2011 with it's "beautiful garnet color, and merveilleux
notes of black fruit, delicate cassis, dark cherry and earthiness" will be very close.
Franck Duboeuf explained that 2011 was a very rare situation of being an equally good year for both whites and the reds of the region, and the Mâcon-Villages and Pouilly-Fuissé that we tasted bore this theory out.
What we tasted and what we — and the Duboeufs —thought:
Georges Duboeuf Mâcon-Villages Domaine Les Chenevières 2011
: Most of the production of Beaujolais is red wine, made from the Gamay grape, but there is a small amount of white wine produced. 100% Chardonnay, he Mâcon-Villages Domaine Les Chenevières was pale gold, with great acid and minerality, with notes of citrus, acid and honey.
Georges Duboeuf Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine Beranger 2011
: Also 100% Chardonnay, with grapes from a small 5th generation family winery located in the middle of Pouilly-Fuissé. The output is small, about 3500 cases a year and with just 1200 reaching the U.S. This bright white gold Chardonnay has a nose of ground almonds, butterscotch and honey. It was rich and oaky, with good structure.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2011:
The intermediate category in terms of classification, it cover overs 39 communes/villages in the Haut Beaujolais, the northern part of the region accounting for a quarter of production. This vintage was ripe and fruity with great depth.
Georges Duboeuf Morgon 2011, Domaine Jean Descombes:
Beautiful intense ruby color, very aromatic with lots of violet and black currant on the nose, as well as the palate. Duboeuf declared that this wine "shows a lot of distinction and a wine of true terroir."
Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Château des Capitans 2011:
The vineyard is in the northern borders of the region and warm years — like 2011 — are particularly warm here. "But the roots are very deep and they do not mind the drought" explained Duboeuf. We tried a barrel sample, which had just been bottled the week before, but the wine was already showing beautifully with loads of black fruits and personality. Duboeuf explained that “it is a very special wine, it has great personality. 2011 was a lot like 2009. This particular wine had the biggest success over the last 5-6 years. It was very critical to expand the vineyard (by 4 acres) for the success of this wine. This is a very noble wine with great aging potential."'
Georges Dubouef Chiroubles 2011
: Chiroubles is located in the foothills of the Monts du Beaujolais. It's vineyards are at the highest altitudes of the entire Beaujolais region. A cool climate and long ripening season produces light and perfumed wines, The 2011 is redolent with raspberry and plums, with light acidity and strong tannins.
Georges Duboeuf Moulin à Vent, Domaine des Rosiers 2011
Deep garnet color with notes of black fruit and vanilla, and great structure.
Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent 2011
This light wine had loads of fresh fruit on the nose and was particularly food friendly.
Georges Duboeuf Brouilly 2011:
Lots of tart cherries on the nose and palate, balanced.
Georges Duboeuf Brouilly Chateau de Nervers 2011:
Still sort of closed but fruity, plums, berries and some lovely hints of vanilla.
Georges Duboeuf Fleurie 2011:
Great fruit, good acidity, well-balanced.
Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents 2011:
Well rounded fruit on the nose and the palate, good balance.