Slowly, but surely, more and more people seem to be coming to the realization that the once much-maligned Gamay grape, when crafted by small batch, artisanal vignerons, is capable of producing heavenly wines. Some of these come from France’s Loire Valley, and our friend Steve Edmunds is producing some very tasty versions in California, but no region is better known for Gamay than Beaujolais. The best wines come from ten Crus, or appellations in the Beaujolais mountains, and of those, our favorite is Morgon, which turns out some of the deepest, darkest wines in the entire region. Our first choice among those has for several years now been Jean Foillard’s Morgon Côte du Py, but there are several other bottlings we’ve discovered that give it a run for its money. One of those comes from the amazing 20-year-old Damien Coquelet. From a recent email offering from Garagista Jon Rimmerman:
“Damien Coquelet is the son of George Descombes – Beaujolais’ answer to Roumier. Ghislaine Descombes (George’s wife) is his mother and Georges has raised him since he was one. Damien has started a small estate under George’s supervision and for his first wine, George and Ghislaine gave him a superb plot to work in Chiroubles with vines over 80-years of age (this is the parcel that was the heart of the 2006 Descombes Chiroubles VV that was one of the highest rated Beaujolais in Tanzer’s IWC a few months ago – a wine that Damien worked on with his father). George’s gift to Damien of his most prized plot is the equivalent of giving your kid a seat on the Board of Directors at age 20 but, in this case, he’s actually earned it by working the Descombes vineyards since he was 5 (not many 20 year olds can boast 15 years of experience).”
Young Coquelet got his hands on some fruit from Côte du Py, so we tried one side-by-side with our old favorite, and it more then holds its own.
2009 Coquelet Morgon Côte du Py, 14.5% alc., $27.99: Pretty ruby garnet color, with a cranberry and cherry nose that expands dramatically on the palate with a note of earth to anchor it. Thick and rich for Gamay, almost cassis-like in texture and density. Medium-to-medium full bodied, deceptively well structured and very primary; the youthful fruit is already delicious, but really, best to keep hands off this for several years. Find this wine
Imported by LDM Wines, Inc., New York, NY
2009 Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py, 13% alc., $33.99: Pretty ruby garnet color, and like the Coquelet, very primary and almost cassis-like in density and texture; perfumed cherry, cranberry and pomegranate flavors and aromas gain a subtle leathery nuance with extended air. Medium-to-medium full bodied and, again, deceptively well structured. Kim likes this better than the Coquelet, but both are really quite nice, and of course, this has a track record in good vintages for aging ten years or longer, and I have no reason to think this lovely wine will be any different. For me, this is the epitome of great Cru Beaujolais. Find this wine
Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
When it comes to great Beaujolais, Jean-Paul Brun is among the very best producers. We’ve tried a number of his selections in the past, but these are our first tastes of his Cru offerings. Based on these two, we’ll certainly be looking for more.
2009 Domaine des Terres Dorees (Jean-Paul Brun) Morgon, 12% alc., $21.99: Clean, dark color, with rich, bright candied black cherry flavors and aromas; gaining some earthy undertones in the mouth; medium-to-medium-full bodied, structured for at least five years of aging and development and finishes with very good length. Still quite primary, and a pretty wine; not the dense, powerful specimens that the Foillard and Coquelet are, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing at all. Find this wine
2009 Domaine des Terres Dorees (Jean-Paul Brun) Moulin-à-Vent, 12% alc., $23.99: Clean, dark color, with an earthy, forest floor nose that morphs into deliciously intense, earthy black cherry and cranberry in the mouth. Medium-to-medium-full bodied, with good structure and excellent length, this should improve over the next five years or so, but is already quite tasty. Find this wine
Domaine des Terres Dorees imported by LDM Wines, Inc., New York, NY
In our next entry, we’ll tell you about a terrific tasting of late model Beaujolais recently staged by our good friend, mead master Ken Schramm.
Reporting from Day-twah,