We continued our survey of late model Beaujolais by accepting a dinner invitation from our friends Ken and Jean Schramm. Besides having written THE book on home mead making, The Compleat Meadmaker, Ken is also a home brewer, fruit grower, bee keeper and, yes, wine lover. He had been looking for the chance to pull the corks from several bottles that he’d acquired lately, and finally found the window of opportunity last week. The first three or four selections made fine pairings for Jean’s delightful roast chicken dinner, and those that followed were equally fine on their own. Also in attendance were Ken and Jean’s daughter Sarah, Leo Carey and Tom Bloomer. We got things started with another offering from 20-year-old Damien Coquelet, whom we wrote about in our last entry.
2009 Damien Coquelet Beaujolais Villages, 13% alc.: Clean, ruby garnet color, with an effusively perfumed black cherry nose that carries over nicely on the palate with a note of cinnamon and some earth underneath; medium-body plus, with moderate structure that serves better for food friendliness now than for aging, but there’s no reason to think that it won’t hold well over the next few years. A pretty wine. Find this wine
2009 Michel Tete Julienas Clos du Fief, 13% alc.: Clean ruby garnet color, with a somewhat muted, subtly floral nose; earthy cranberry and cherry flavors on a medium bodied frame, with moderate structure. Somewhat one-dimensional at this point, suggesting that it can use some time to develop. Find this wine
The world of wine, and especially Beaujolais, is a poorer place with the recent passing of Marcel Lapierre, who, along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton and Jean-Paul Thévenet, made up Kermit Lynch’s “Gang of Four” Morgon producers. Ken opened two of his last wines.
2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon, 13% alc.: Marcel Lapierre’s last vintage; clean ruby color, and all cherry cough drop on the nose. Very pretty flavors echo beautifully, underscored with nice earthiness; medium bodied, with good length and structure that seems to rely more on acids than tannins. A lovely wine. RIP Marcel. Find this wine
2008 Marcel Lapierre Morgon, 12% alc.: Pretty ruby color, with cranberry and cherry flavors and aromas, gaining some subtle earth in the mouth; middleweight at most, and not as concentrated as the ’09. Nice on its own terms, but perhaps the lightest Morgon I’ve tried from the Gang of Four. Find this wine
2009 Coudert Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, 13% alc.: Clean ruby garnet color, with a somewhat muted earthy black cherry nose; rich, pure Gamay character on the palate, with medium body, decent structure and good length. A pretty wine for drinking now and over the next few years; Ken refers to it as “the biggest whore on the table” for its drink-me-now lusciousness. Not the Cuvee Tardive, but very nice nevertheless. Find this wine
2009 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte de Py Vielles Vignes, 13% alc.: The darkest colored of these wines, showing a clean garnet; the deepest and darkest in character as well, as Kim alluded to when she remarked, “Everything else was salad, this is dinner.” The black cherry nose borders on being plummy, turning quite earthy on the palate; big and rich, with excellent intensity. I’d like to spend some time with this one and get to know it lots better, but then, I could just as easily say that about most of these. Find this wine
2008 Didier Desvignes Morgon les Charmes, 13% alc.: Clean ruby garnet color, with a muted, earthy black cherry nose and plenty more of the same on the palate; rivals the Burgaud for brawn and depth. Medium-full-to-full bodied, with good structure and length, this has the stuffing to go several years in the cellar. Find this wine
These are all delicious examples of just how good Gamay can get, but Ken wasn’t finished with us yet, as he had decanted of goodly portion of his masterpiece, the B. Nektar Meadery Heart of Darkness Ken Schramm Signature Series Mead, which Ferndale, Michigan-based B. Nektar described as follows:
“Meadmaker Ken Schramm crafted the Heart of Darkness exclusively from his home grown fruit. This mead represents a true labor of love. Hand-picked and hand-pitted morello cherries were fermented with black currants, red raspberries and Michigan honey from Larry Yates’ Sawmill Lake Apiaries. Virtually all of a season’s fruit production was used in this inaugural batch, limiting its production to a small number of individually signed and numbered bottles. The Heart of Darkness was free run, unfined and unfiltered, yielding a deep, intense character. It pairs beautifully with grilled meats, bleu cheese, and dark chocolate.”
B. Nektar Heart of Darkness Mead Ken Schramm Signature Series, 14% alc.: The deep, dark color gives you an indication of the depth of this wonderful mead, as successive sips reveal intense, ultra-ripe perfumed blackberry and black cherry flavors and aromas, with the honey seeming most evident in the sweet intensity of the fruit. Viscous and intense, with the structure provided by the acidity, it seems more over-ripe than actually sweet, but however you describe it, this is just amazing stuff that delivers a unique, nay, make that mind-blowing, tasting experience. Find this wine
Many thanks to Ken and Jean Schramm for a wonderful evening of great friendship, food, wine and mead. Next one’s at our house!
Reporting from Day-twah,