Get your Bojo working – cru Beaujolais in the height of summer

philip In 1395, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was so afraid of gamay that he banned it. That’s right: a man named “the bold” feared a grape. You need to use his fear to your advantage.

Philip was afraid that gamay would encroach on the turf of pinot noir, the native red grape of his home area. And indeed it might: high in acidity with red fruit notes and very food friendly, you could easily see why the Duke of Burgundy might be running scared.

bojomap So over the weekend, we had some friends over to the Dr. Vino World Headquarters and tried a dozen Beaujolais. There are ten small appellations, or growing areas in the region, and we didn’t quite cover all of them. But it was a representative enough sample to get a lay of the land, something that definitely merits your attention, as blogger Neil is doing tasting through two wines from each appellation.

Since we live in a capitalist economy, I let the invisible hand take control of structuring the tasting, letting the friends bring whatever they found instead of trying to dictate which wines to bring. The distribution was surprisingly even with good representation of the appellations. I should note, however, that it wasn’t always easy finding them. For example, one friend reported that he asked for some cru Beaujolais at a respected store and the first clerk didn’t know what he meant (fortunately another did). And I went to an off-the-beaten-path store where the owner told me that he didn’t stock much French wine in part because the dollar made it more expensive (the other part was for patriotic reasons–does that sentiment still exist?!?). While that may be true from a currency exchange standpoint, it’s hardly the case for cru Beaujolais, which is almost entirely between $12 and $25.

I wanted to include some of the Louis Jadot Beaujolais since I was quite surprised that Jacqueline Friedrich described them as “to die for.” Whoa! After lavishing praise on several specific cuvees and the wine maker Jacques Lardiere in her book, The Wines of France, Friedrich writes, “My absolute soft spot here, though, is for the wines from Moulin-a-Vent particularly the elegant, lip-smacking beauties from Chateau des Jacques, including its cuvées such as La Roche, and Clos de Rochegres, that you could easily take for, say, very, very good Volnays.” I had to include some of those in the lineup but had trouble locating the 2005s commercially, so contacted the importer (Kobrand) who sent them to me as sample bottles.

Some final general observations to get your Bojo working in the height of summer:
* chilling leads to thrilling. Some of the wines were slightly chilled and they were more pleasurable. Five minutes in an ice bucket should do the trick.
* decanting actually helped one of the wines; another really opened up after some air. Maybe chilling and decanting is the ultimate Bojo experience?
* Jancis Robinson has called Beaujolais “the archetypal lubrication wine” and “gulpable” if served chilled so it’s really a wine for drinking, not for pondering, even if these crus are probably the most ponderable.
* these were all 2005s (except for two) and it is a very solid vintage.
* and remember, this is NOT Beaujolais nouveau, which is a whole different thing.

Here are the wines from the tasting, in my order of preference.

jacques Louis Jadot, Chateau des Jacques, Moulin a Vent, 2005. $25 (find this wine)
A tremendous wine and the clear winner of the tasting. “The best pinot noir of the tasting,” quipped one taster, emphasizing its similarities to Burgundy. It is so good that it transcends Beaujolais and really tastes like something from the Cote de Nuits that sells for two or three times the price. Solid tannins from the barrel fermentation but a great balance between fruit, acid and tannin.

charmes M.J. Vincent, “Charme,” Morgon, 2005. $21 (find this wine)
This wine comes back to Beaujolais in quintessential form. Served chilled, this great gamay character is one I returned to for pleasure after tasting through all the wines. A longer finish than many, it does pack more of the punch known that Morgon is known for. Red berry fruit with faint licorice pair with soft tannins.

Chateau des Jacques, La Roche, Moulin-a-Vent, 2004. $29 (find this wine)
Back to the splashy, Bojo style for Chateau des Jacques. Fun notes of tart cherry, raspberry but good power to boot. Very good–lip-smacking, indeed!

Chateau des Jacques, Clos de Rochegres, Moulin-a-Vent, 2004 $29 (find this wine)
Closed and tannic at first, this wine climbed to this high place on my tasting sheet after I went back and tasted it two hours later. The wine had shaken off the closed tannins right after uncorking and became more fun, more Beaujolais like. But it remained an intense wine–Beaujolais for brooding.

chiroubles Pacalet, Chiroubles, 2006. (find this wine)
I am sneaking this wine in since it wasn’t at our tasting but we had this Christophe Pacalet 2006 Chiroubles for 14,45€ at lunch at Lavinia in Paris in June. The lunch itself was overpriced and somewhat ho-hum but the wine was not thanks to their policy, written artistically in many languages on the wall, that all the wines on the restaurant side are the same price as the retail price–no corkage! The wine was a great lunch wine with good balance between the notes of fresh red fruit, acidity, and even some gentle tannin. It paired well with my white fish (search for this wine). This is about where I would have put it if it had been in this tasting. Let’s hope this is a good preliminary indication of the 06 Bojos.

poncie Pierre-Marie Chermette, Domaine de Vissoux, Poncie, Fleurie, 2005. $20 (find this wine)
This wine was fascinating. When I uncorked it, it was a very nice, juicy, Fleurie with clear notes of wild strawberries. I decanted it and two hours later the wild strawberry was gone, replaced by a pleasant tart cherry. Two hours after that, the wine was “over” as it has lost its vigor. What was that about needing to gulp Beaujolais? Don’t wait too long to drain the bottle!

Dom du Clos du Fief (Michel Tete), Julienas, 2005. $18 (find this wine)
More tart cherry, improved with the goat cheese, a great pairing.

Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly, 2005. $12 (find this wine)
Chilled, it is gulpable. One friend suggested that it “takes him back to a bistro in France.” The wine was very popular, a bright, delicious, and an easy drinking favorite.

Domaine Piron & Lafont, “Quartz,” Chenas, 2005 $16 (find this wine)
Very solid with a good balance of fruit, acid and gentle tannin.

Chateau des Lumieres, Morgon, 2005. $18 (find this wine)
Remained quite closed with firm tannins.

Jean-Paul Brun, “L’Ancien,” Terre Dorees, Beaujolais, 2005. $15 (find this wine)
Definitely better chilled but somehow not as expressive as some of the others. I was surprised at the unveiling that this one was this low down on my sheet. It’s still fun, just surprisingly disappointing given the status of Jean-Paul Brun.

Les Bataillons, Fleurie, 2005 (find this wine)
Simple, with an odd offputting note that I couldn’t quite place. Artichoke? Asparagus?

Daniel Bouland, “vieilles vignes,” Morgon, 2005, $18
(find this wine)
Big tannins, not much joy here.

A final note, one guest brought a magnum of Clos Roilette 2005 (find this wine–a very nice gesture that we saved for a future occasion. So that’s yet another good thing to do with Beaujolais–give a magnum as an impressive gift!

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19 Responses to “Get your Bojo working – cru Beaujolais in the height of summer”


  1. I’m beginning to see that the wine blogosphere is taking on a touch of the mob mentality of the stock market — I was also inspired by BrooklynGuy’s Bojo (love that appelation!) project and traveled from the wilds of Jersey to NYC to pick up a range of bottles from Bojo-Villaj to a couple of crus. I haven’t tried them yet, but enjoyed your tasting notes.

    With what seems like a good deal of renewed interest in Bojos, do you expect them to climb out of the value price range in a year or two?

    And, what’s the word on the ’06 compared to the ’05?


  2. Hey Mr Taz –

    Obviously I hope that the prices don’t rise–the price is certainly part of the appeal!

    As to the 06 I have only taste three, all in France. I also had the Pacalet St. Amour and found it too tart to get my Bojo going. But one conscientious retailer that I spoke with in Paris said that he thinks the 06s are great.

    It’s a pity that they aren’t already hitting our shores. For some reason, the US market seems to have long distributor pipelines that are often oddly blocked and need to get cleared out before the freshest, most recent vintage of wines can be brought in.


  3. Interesting. In my Bojo quest Saturday, I wanted the ’05 Jadot Bojo Villages and could only find the ’06. The salesman told me the ’06 had a better “profile” than the ’05. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I’ve always been a fan of good profiles, so I went for it.

    If your “conscientious retailer” in Paris is Juan Sanchez, I’ll take that as gospel.


  4. I love Piron. Chenas Quartz is really good, as is their Brouilly. Yum!


  5. Mr Taz – I also enjoy a good profile. Have you pulled the cork on the 06 villagesyet?… And yes, it was Juan Sanchez who gave 06 Bojo a thumbs up!

    JB – glad we included one of your faves!


  6. Nice Dr. Vino. I got me some buyin’ to do. Great way to end the summer. Cooking light and drinking Beaujolais. Thanks for the recommendations. Don’t know enough about this area and want to know more.

    EvWg


  7. I haven’t had it yet. I’ll report back when I do, although with no previous Bojo experience, it’ll be of the “Like / Don’t Like” variety.

    BTW — I love your blog. I got hooked by your series on producer / importer / retailer. Any chance you’ll revisit them?

    BTW 2 — Clicking on your #1 choice, Jadot Ch des Jacques yields a range of wines from $20 to $200, with the low end only in CA. I’d like to find it in NY or NJ. Do you know where your bottle was purchased?


  8. EVWG – If you don’t get to them during the summer, the higher acidity makes them food friendly year-round. Don’t you have a gamay/pinot noir on the list at In Vino? It would be fun to taste that with a Bourgogne Passetoutgrain.

    Hey Mr Taz –

    So glad you liked that little project, the Real Wine World! That kind of original reporting was time consuming so I’m glad to hear you liked it. I have some more things planned to highlight people in the industry but who knows, maybe I’ll resurrect that idea?

    Re: the top wine, as I mentioned in the write-up, I wanted to include the 05 in the tasting with the other 05s but I couldn’t find it locally (as you discovered) so I contacted the importer who sent me a sample. I followed up after the tasting and learned that the 05s have landed but haven’t made it into the NY area stores yet, indeed, because of the aforementioned distributor blockage (sounds like they need a bran muffin). So they have yet to reach stores–perhaps this fall? But I see Sherry-Lehmann has the 04 for the unbelievable price of $15! Excuse me while I head to Madison Avenue…


  9. Nice lineup but no Desvignes? Yes, I’m an insufferable wine ponce.

    Too bad about the Brun, but maybe not surprising as subtlety doesn’t always win – his profile on Louis-Dressner’s site is always worth reading to help put his wines in context:
    http://www.louisdressner.com/Brun/


  10. No Desvignes, Steve; no Thivin either. Next time!

    While I applaud M. Brun for not using commercial yeast 71B, I’m sure that many of the other wines in this tasting also used indigenous yeasts.

    And how ironic that Dressner, the great anti-Parker, uses a Parker quote on that page to tout the Brun wines!


  11. I tasted one 06 so far, and it was Brun’s Cuvee L’Ancien. It was smokey and nice, but it didn’t bring the same pleasure as some of my other favorites. I am not sure that I agree with “subtle” as a descriptor for Brun, if you are referring to the 05 L’Ancien – the one that got all of the initial raves. I find that wine to be muscle-bound and in your face, compared with the Vissoux Beaujolais, for example.

    If prices go up I will be the first one crying tears of rage.


  12. [...] des Jacques wines from Beaujolais that she was rhapsodic about and included them in my recent Bojo tasting and I was very glad I did. However, the parsimony of the star system on display in Vouvray breaks [...]


  13. More tart cherry, improved with the goat cheese, a great pairing.

    You mean like chevre? I think sauvignon blanc and chevre is a great pairing, but I guess I’ll have to try it with Beaujolais.


  14. [...] but world’s apart in terms of quality. Basically anything from 2005 works; here’s a run down of some crus with my seal of approval, many of the wines, bought a year or so ago by importers and stores, are just a few dollars more [...]


  15. [...] Unlike Parker, I find few “good” examples of Beaujolais nouveau (cru Beaujolais is an entirely more rewarding category, however). And some tasting panels can’t agree on what [...]


  16. [...] daily email, or free monthly updates by email (right sidebar). Thanks for visiting!Last year, I was loving the serious 2005 Beaujolais from many of the ten “crus,” or sub-zones of the downtrodden region. I’ve tasted [...]


  17. I just tried the 2007 Chateau des Jacques vintage, and although it needed some breathing time, it was incredible. A little young, but very soft to the palate on the first intake.


  18. [...] for learning about wines made near you). Or, if you’ve been there, drunk that near you, try a cru Beaujolais; it’s a better direction for the region to head and, thanks to the shipping, a fraction of [...]


  19. [...] How would you change the region? In 1395, Duke Philip the Bold outlawed the humble gamay grape from Burgundy, protecting the premium pinot noir by fiat. What would you do [...]


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