Now that the maniacal devotion to Beaujolais nouveau seems to be diminishing, people who love Beaujolais_Village_btl_535pxBeaujolais can order and drink the real stuff without feeling abashed. The region, south of Mâconnais in central-eastern France — there’s actually a continuous narrow geographic and vinous entity that extends from Burgundy south through the Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais — produces wine in three qualitative categories: basic Beaujolais (the grapes generally comes from the south or Bas Beaujolais); Beaujolais-Villages (the grapes are a blend derived from slopes in the northern area of Beaujolais); and Cru Beaujolais (which comes from vineyards in one of 10 villages in the north that have their own AOC status and display the name of the village on the label). A tiny amount of Beaujolais blanc is made from chardonnay grapes, but the rest of these are red wines made from the gamay grape, or as it is formally known gamay noir à jus blanc. Our wine today is the Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2014, a wine that includes dollops of juice from Cru vineyards. The color is dark ruby shading to a lighter violet rim; aromas of freshly-picked black cherries, raspberries and plums convey a pleasing freight of woody spices and a dusting of sage and thyme. This is a dry wine, almost succulent in its black and red fruit flavors but checked by bright acidity and a hint of lean, graphite-infused tannins. As moments pass, the wine expands its offering of floral elements in rose petals and lilac. 12.5 percent alcohol. A truly charming wine with intriguing dark edges and corners. I drank a glass or two of this wine last night as accompaniment to a summery pasta with an uncooked sauce of fresh tomatoes, endive, garlic and basil, marinated in olive oil, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. Now through 2017 into 2018. Excellent. About $14, a Distinct Value.

Imported by Kobrand Wine and Spirits, Purchase, N.Y. A sample for review.

At first, your reaction to the deep ruby-magenta Stéphane Aviron Beaujolais-Villages 2013 will be, “Oh, goody, pure black raspberries avironand black cherries!” Why ask for more, right? Give it a few moments in the glass, though, and notes of cloves, lavender and violets creep in, followed by tinges of graphite and loam. A little plum, dark and spicy; a bit of cranberry, fresh and tart. It’s a tasty wine, actually delicious, but quite dry, with a definite mineral edge to the lithe finish. 13 percent alcohol. The wine is made from 100 percent gamay grapes, as it must be in Beaujolais, from vines 50 years old and older. It undergoes whole-cluster fermentation and ages briefly in old 50 hectoliter puncheons, that is, large barrels that hold 1,320.86 gallons; the standard French oak barrel for aging wine holds 59 gallons. The point is that the wine should possess shape and tone — much like human beings — but no taint of wood to inhibit freshness and flavor. Beaujolais-Villages is a versatile wine; we drank this with last night’s pizza of basil, roasted fennel and red onions with three cheeses and a dash of peppered salami. Really charming. Very Good+. About $15, a local purchase.

Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York, whose website has not caught up to the vintage of the wine under discussion.

The cash-cow of Beaujolais Nouveau jumped over the moon Thursday, the third Thursday of November being the regulated release day for the first wine after harvest of the gamay grapes in the bucolic French region of Beaujolais. Much ink had been expended in maligning the supposedly fresh fruity quaff, especially in its role of submerging or obliterating recognition of the fine wines produced in the 10 cru villages of Beaujolais, and I have spilled my share of that ink in such service. What was once a local ritual to celebrate the harvest turned, through canny marketing and overproduction, into a world-wide phenomenon that approached frenzy. The wine, let’s say frankly, is not worth that promotional upheaval. On the other hand, there’s not a thing wrong with enjoying a glass or two of Beaujolais Nouveau under rational — that is, non-hysterical — circumstances. Since the wine is released shortly before the American feast called Thanksgiving, there’s a tendency to link the two, and while Beaujolais Nouveau is not my choice for the late November groaning board — I go with pinot noir and riesling and zinfandel not in the blockbuster vein, preferably wines with zippy acidity — a well-made and classy Beaujolais Nouveau would not be amiss. I mean, let’s face it; you’re going to drink what you want to anyway, n’est-ce pas? Here are reviews, then, of two of the most broadly available Beaujolais Nouveau wines for 2014.

These wines were samples for review. Image from

Open a bottle of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2014, and you smell the bubble gum and bananas from a foot away. The color is a glowing yet fairly dark purple-magenta; fortunately, aromas of mulberries, raspberries and red currants are also present, and they persist into the mouth, where the wine is dark and spicy on the palate. This is quite dry, in fact almost austere on the finish, and lacks what I think should be the essential qualities of Beaujolais Nouveau — freshness and charm. 12 percent alcohol. Good only. About $11.
Imported by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, White Plains, N.Y.

The color of the Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau 2014 is radiant medium purple-violet; the bouquet weaves mulberries, red currants and red cherries with echoes of black currants and cherries in a spicy, up-lifting package; this rendition of Beaujolais Nouveau feels classic, grapey, yes, but a little earthy and with a touch of graphite minerality for structure. It’s not delicate, but it is charming, almost elegant. Clearly my favorite of this pair under review. 12.5 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $12.
Imported by Dreyfus, Ashby, New York.

Vintage 2009 in Beaujolais received a tremendous amount of praise as the “best year ever” or “the vintage of the century” — it’s a pretty short century so far — and other superlatives, and indeed 2009 produced terrific wines across the board, but in its way, 2010 may have resulted in even deeper more structured wines. Perhaps I’m rushing to judgment, basing this conclusion on an excessively limited number of examples, but I was very impressed by the wines mentioned in this post and their character and their eloquent expression of the gamay grape, or, to give its full name, gamay noir à jus blanc, called thus because while the skin is dark, the flesh is pale.

As well known as it is, especially for the frothy, forgettable Beaujolais nouveau released on the third Thursday of November, Beaujolais is somewhat of an outsider. It’s often considered to be part of Burgundy, that region’s southernmost area, below Chalonnais and Maconnais, yet Beaujolais could alternatively be counted as the northernmost wine region of the Rhône départment; mainstream Burgundy, including Chalonnais and Maconnais, lies in the next down départment of Saône et Loire. In addition to that geographical anomaly, Beaujolais devotes itself with almost fanatical monoculturalism to the gamay grape, while the rest of Burgundy, with equally focused devotion, cultivates chardonnay and pinot noir. (Yes, a tiny amount of chardonnay goes into Beaujolais Blanc.)

Three of the wines I discuss in today’s post are Beaujolais Cru wines, that is, they derive from one of the 10 villages or communes that produce the top echelon of the region’s gamay wines; the fourth example is a “regular” Beaujolais. Making the third category and falling between Beaujolais and the Cru wines is Beaujolais-Villages. The Cru communes occupy the best hillside sites in the northern area of the Beaujolais region; they are, going from north to south, Saint-Amour, Juliènas, Chenas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly and Brouilly.

These wines would be perfect with the food we associate with Autumn’s chill, braised and roasted meats, hearty casseroles and game birds.

The wines mentioned here were imported by Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Ca.; they were tasted at a wholesaler’s trade event. I apologize for the lack of the diacritical marking on Maconnais; WordPress just would not allow an “a” with a circumflex.

Forget all your conceptions of “straight” Beaujolais as light-hearted, grapey, quaffable stuff. The Dupeuble Beaujolais 2010, made from vines ranging from 50 to 100 years old, is very evocative, dark and smoky, seething with blackberry, currant and blueberry scents and flavors laden with cloves and sandalwood and a distinct earthy-minerally-briery quality. Quite dense and chewy for a Beaujolais, this displays great character and presence and a long finish packed with rhubarb, blueberry tart and graphite; vibrant acidity provides a taut structure. This received not a scrap of oak, fermenting and aging in cement vats and stainless steel tanks. Alcohol content is 12.5 percent. Drink now through 2014 or ’15. Very Good+. About $16.

Wow, the Chateau Thivin Côte de Brouilly 2010 exudes the power of the grape, the vine, the earth that harbored and nourished the roots. Oh, right, call me a romantic, but this is one of those wines that feels as if the soil and bedrock not only influenced its personality and character but seeped up the vines into the grapes themselves and thence into your glass. Made from vines that average 50 years old and aged six months in foudres — large barrels of various dimensions — the Thivin Côte de Brouilly 2010 is dense, dark, smoky, spicy and chewy, almost brooding in nature, though that aspect is beautifully balanced by the brightness and immediacy of ripe, vivid black currant and black raspberry flavors permeated by notes of dusty briers and brambles and by lip-smacking acidity. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2016 to ’18. Excellent. About $24.

The Jean-Paul Thévenet Vieilles Vignes — “Old Vines” — Morgon 2010 is unusually large-framed, resonant and dry, even for Morgon, usually cited as the biggest and most structured of the Beaujolais Cru wines. O.K., so, multi-dimensioned, richly detailed, vibrant, with a ravishing fleshy, meaty, spicy bouquet, all slightly exotic black and blue fruit, violets and rose petals, and then a seductive firmness and viscosity to the texture. The grapes came from two parcels of vines, one 45 years old, the other 110 (!) years old, and you feel that age and maturity, that sense of knowledge and experience, to be anthropomorphic about it, in the wine’s depth, in its grip and generosity. The wines at this estate, founded in 1870, receive long skin contact and age six to eight months in old Burgundian barrels, deriving from those processes rich color, heady aromas and a supple structure. If you are one of those who do not deign to drink Beaujolais, this one may change your mind, though that assertion holds true for all of these wines. Best from 2012/13 to 2018 to ’20. Excellent. About $35.

Another “wow” for the Domaine Diochon Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Moulin-à-Vent 2010, a Beaujolais Cru wine that radiates purity and intensity. Again, this is broad and deep, dark and dense, intense and concentrated and revealing loads of character. What makes it different from the other Beaujolais Cru wines in this post? I would say that it’s distinguished structurally by not only the typical briery-brambly and earthy qualities but by an unusually sharply-etched dusty floral-graphite-granite element that gives the wine real point and grip and beguilement. Still, the wine would benefit from a little age, even a year, so try from 2012 or ’13 through 2018 to ’20. Alcohol content is 13 percent. Excellent. About $25.

A year ago I tasted through a range of Georges Duboeuf’s Cru Beaujolais wines from 2009, both in the well-known “flower” label series — on which the floral aspect has gradually diminished over the years — and from single-vineyard estates. Last week, I had the opportunity to try many of those wines again, at a wholesaler’s trade event, and among them was the flower label or “regular” Juliénas 2009 that I had not tasted last August. I thought the conjunction provided a way of investigating what a year in the bottle had done to two of the estate-grown Juliénas wines and compare them to the regular model I just tasted.
The wines of Georges Duboeuf are imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, N.Y.

The Georges Duboeuf Juliénas 2009 offers a characteristic deep ruby color with a violet-magenta glow. Violets seem to be a theme, because there’s a hint of violets in the bouquet, along with notes of strawberry and mulberry, touches of red and black cherries and a slight briery quality. Those cherries, ripe and succulent, come out in the wine’s flavor aspect, adding layers of smoke, plums, more briers and brambles. The wine is juicy but dry, with keen acidity and a bit of slightly gamy earthiness providing anchor. Drink now through 2013 or ’14 with omelets, pates and terrines – or rabbit fricassée, which is what I ate when I had the Georges Duboeuf Julienas 1983 — my first Beaujolais Cru — at my birthday dinner in 1984. Here’s a link to a post about that wine and occasion. Very Good+. About $15.
A year ago, I wrote of Duboeuf’s Juliénas La TrinQuée 2009 that it was a wine of particular purity and intensity, resonance and vibrancy. It offers, paradoxically, the warmth of ripe, fleshy, meaty black and red fruit flavors with the coolness of granite and peat. Immensely appealing, powerful without being forceful, elegant without being fragile. Now through 2015 or ’16. Twelve months have lent the wine more heft and “darkness” in the form of additional graphite-tinged rooty, mossy, foresty, spicy elements though its beguiling notes of roses and violets, blackberries and mulberries and strawberry bubblegum have lost none of their allure. The wine is beautifully knit, vibrant and still tremendously appealing. 2015 or ’16 also still seems right. Excellent. About $16.
I was not so fond of the Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Chateau des Capitans 2009 last August, writing Oh, it certainly displays tremendous purity and intensity — it practically vibrates in the glass — but in its wheatmeal-earthy-minerally nature, its rollicking spice and dusty, chewy tannins, I find it atypical of its grape and commune. It’s not enough merely to take the virtues of those essential entities and pump them up like sluggers on steroids. Or perhaps it just needs some time to find company manners, say from 2012 or ’13 through 2015 to ’17. Well, it seems as if a year in the bottle has smoothed the wine out a great deal, though no denying that it remains somewhat of an uncharacteristic powerhouse for the commune; nonetheless, the wine delivers a gorgeous, penetrating floral and mineral-tinged bouquet that layers ripe red and black cherries and currants with deeply spicy, briery qualities that extend dynamically and elegantly into the flavor profile. A lovely estate Juliénas with a serious edge. Now through, yes, 2015 to ’17. Last year I rated this wine Very Good+, but it surely merits Excellent now. About $20.

So, yes, this post is a miscellany, a salmagundi, a pot au feu of topics and wines with which I want to deal and get done; well, two, anyway. Here goes:
Not meaning to be a jerk or any such thing, but like all people who write about wine, while I try to cultivate a universal palate, there are certain styles of wine that get my back up; as if you didn’t know, one is over-ripe, tropical chardonnay from California and another is red wine from Tuscany that relies on aging in French oak barrels and ends up resembling nothing more Italian than a Bordeaux or Napa Valley cabernet. So, I was pleasantly surprised to like two wines I encountered recently that reversed my bias, at least in these examples. I’m not a convert, if you please.

The first is the Seven Heavenly Chardonnays 2010, from the Michael David Winery in Lodi (and counterpart to their 7 Deadly Zins, ha-ha), an area of the Central Valley not typically regarded as prime real estate for chardonnay; actually, viognier tends to do better. Anyway, the wine opens in a very ripe, very spicy manner, seething with lemon curd and lemon balm, mango and pineapple, quince jam and crystallized ginger, with underlying notes of cinnamon toast. Holy Hannah, I thought, I’m not going to like this one damned bit! I was wrong. Carefully nurtured by winemakers Adam Mettler and Derek Devries, the wine ages only five months in a combination of 30 percent French oak and 70 percent steel tanks, so after the initial introduction the wood influence smooths out and is actually quite subtle and supple. Though the wine is sizable, and sports a texture that’s almost talc-like in softness, it’s deftly structured with enough acidity and limestone-like minerality to lend it balancing crispness and energy. Flavors still fall into the classic pineapple-grapefruit range but feel fully integrated into a package that while being bold and bright never seems flamboyant or ponderous. 14.5 percent alcohol. Very Good+ and a Great Bargain at about $14. A sample for review.

The second example of a wine that surprised and pleased me is Le Volte 2009, a Toscana IGT from Tenuta dell’Ornellaia. Truly, I open red wines from Tuscany with constant trepidation, because I know the way of thinking in that ancient realm of traditional winemaking is that if a wine is good, it will be better if it ages in French barriques. This concept is a complete misconception, of course, yet producers all over the world cling to it as the drowning to a lifeboat; the result is that many of the (especially) red wines I open and taste deliver an overwhelming smack of smoky, toasty, austere woody wood right to my nose and palate. It’s a shame. So, I extracted the cork from this bottle of Le Volte 2009, a blend of 50 percent merlot, 30 percent sangiovese and 20 percent cabernet sauvignon, with a rueful sigh. And guess what? Prego, the wine was absolutely lovely, balanced, integrated and delicious. Yes, the wine aged in French barriques, but only for 10 months, and the barrels ranged from 2 to 4 years old and were all, as they say, “third-use,” having been employed previously in the production of the estate’s flagship wine Ornellaia. Here’s a “modern” Tuscan red, dominated by “international” grape varieties that does not seem hopelessly devoted to the models of Paulliac or the Napa Valley. The wine offers the essence of thyme-and-cedar-infused black currants with a touch of black olives and wild traces of mulberry, rhubarb and sandalwood underlain by a generous element of graphite-tinged earthiness. The whole shebang is ripe and a little fleshy, spiced and macerated (with a hint of sangiovese’s black tea, dried roses and orange rind), and it glides across the palate on sweetly orchestrated bearings of finely-milled, well-oiled tannins and polished oak. Lithe and elegant, yet with a touch of the unbridled free spirit about it. Drink now through 2015 to ’17. Alcohol content is 13.5 percent. Excellent. About $30.
Imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, Ca. A sample for review.

The current vintage of Pillar Box White in the United States in the 2008; in Australia, they’re drinking the 2009. Having lunch in Memphis a couple of weeks ago, however, with Kim Longbottom, owner of Henry’s Drive Vignerons, producer of the Pillar Box wines, we tried the 2007. This situation resulted from a conflict between distributors about changing brands and having to get wine from a distributor on the other side of the state — and Tennessee is a very long state — all the ramifications of which I did not comprehend, but the upshot was that the Pillar Box White 07, a blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and verdelho grapes, is drinking beautifully now. Remember, this is basically a simple, direct white wine intended for easy quaffing and not thinking about too much. I was amazed then that this four-year-old uncomplicated white wine offered beguiling notes of roasted lemon and bees’-wax, some hints of sunny, leafy figs and quince, a touch of lanolin, a delicate infusion of limestone and shale. Certainly I would not hold onto the wine for even another year, but it’s so graceful and charming now that it’s irresistible. 13 percent alcohol. Very Good+. You can find this around the country at $7 to $12, representing Great Value.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa, Ca. Image from

Another wine from 2007 that I encourage My Readers to look for the Chateau Thivin Côte de Brouilly 2007, a cru Beaujolais from one of the hardest areas to find. Made 100 percent from gamay grapes, as by law the wines of Beaujolais must be, this delivers that true gamay combination of black currants, red cherries and high-tones of fresh grapiness permeated by briers and brambles and a hint of clean slate. Three and a half years have given the wine a little fleshy ripeness, a whiff of lilac, a back-note of fruitcake. Smooth, mellow, engaging, downright delicious. The wine spent six months in large oak casks. Zaccharie Geoffray bought the small estate and chateau at auction in 1877; his descendents still own and operate the property, now with grand-nephew Claude Geoffray, his wife Evelyne and their son Claude-Edouard. 12.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $20 to $28 around the country, the latter the price I paid locally.
Imported by Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Cal.

First, the terrifically tasty Rocca Sveva Soave Classico 2009, produced by the Cantina di Soave, a cooperative founded in 1898 that now boasts 2,200 farmers as members. The Soave region lies east of the beautiful city of Verona, site of the annual giant VinItaly trade fair — coming right up, April 7-11 — with the Soave Classico zone rising in hills in the farther eastern reaches of Soave. The region was granted D.O.C. status in 1968; the theoretically higher or better D.O.C.G. ranking was bestowed in 2002 but only for Soave Classico and Soave Classico Superiore. This latter move was an attempt to separate the Classico and Classico Superiore vineyards in the hills from the inferior vineyards in the flatlands, the source of most of the bland, innocuous Soave wines with which the world is too boringly familiar. As is typically the case with the Italian wine laws, the situation is actually more complicated, but the simplification I offer here will be sufficient to our purpose.

Also complicated is the make-up of the grapes that comprise Soave. Principle among these is garganega, a grape that, given the appropriate climate, soil and elevation, is capable of making interesting and even complex, if not great, wines. For the DOCG wines of the hillsides, the characterless trebbiabo Toscana is now forbidden, though is it found ubiquitously in the Soaves of the plains. Other authorized grapes include trebbiano de Soave, chardonnay (which seems an odd choice) and pinot bianco. Garganega must be at least 70 percent of the blend.

The Rocca Sveva Soave Classico 2009, as a matter of fact, is 100 percent garganega. The color is pale straw; the bouquet delivers seductive aromas of roasted lemon and lemon balm, almond and almond blossom with hints of green plums, melons and dried thyme. Made all in stainless steel, the wine is notably clean, fresh and crisp, very lemony in flavor with touches of pear and grapefruit and a tremendous spicy element laid over a burgeoning layer of limestone-like minerality. The texture nicely balances scintillating acidity with moderate soft lushness. Thoroughly enjoyable with the bacon and leek risotto with poached egg that I cooked last week. 12.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Filippo Pedron. Very Good+. About $15, representing Real Value.

MW Imports, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The recipe for the bacon and leek risotto with poached egg — wonderful dish! — is in the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. Here’s a link to the recipe at the magazine’s website.
Next, for a red wine, we try the Paul Durdilly “Les Grandes Coasses” Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais 2009, from a splendid year in Beaujolais. Notice that this is a “regular” Beaujolais, not a Beaujolais-Villages or a Cru Beaujolais from one of the 10 named communes, yet you would be hard pressed to find a wine that expressed the true nature of the gamay grape more eloquently than this one. The vines average 40 years old, with some going back 70 years. The wine matures in stainless steel tanks and large old barrels, so any wood influence is a subtle, supple sense of shaping and nuances of underlying spice. The wine is lovely in every aspect, from its radiant ruby-purple color with a faint blue cast to its pure and intense bouquet of black and red currants and red raspberries imbued with cloves, mulberries and a touch of graphite-like minerality. In the mouth, this is silken fruit draped over the stones and bones of clean, vibrant acidity and deftly etched limestone and shale, all stated with varietal intensity and concentration that do not cloud the wine’s utter delight. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2012 or ’13. Excellent. Suggested retail price is $17; I paid $20 in Memphis.
North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Cal. The label in this image is slightly different from the label on the bottle I had.

Vintage 2009 is being proclaimed as the best that Beaujolais has seen not only in many years but in the lifetimes of the oldest vignerons. The grape of Beaujolais is gamay, a cousin of pinot noir. Certainly this range of some of the many Cru Beaujolais wines produced by Georges Duboeuf that I tried recently displayed uncommon depth and resonance and will benefit from aging for eight to 10 years. Duboeuf gets a lot of criticism (including from me) for launching and sustaining the fad for Beaujolais Nouveau and for introducing the yeast — 71B — that imposes the repulsive scents of bananas and coconut on Beaujolais Nouveau and basic level Beaujolais; no, youngsters, those aromas are not “characteristic” of Beaujolais.

Duboeuf, however, through long-term contracts and relationships, also produces and markets the wines of a number of small estates or properties among the 10 Cru Beaujolais communes, as well as making his own Cru wines sold under his well-known flower labels. I tasted a selection of these wines recently at a trade event. The products of Georges Duboeuf are imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison, N.Y.

Brouilly 2009 (Flower label). Enticing ruby-purple color; penetrating, almost startling, aromas of black currant, mulberry, cloves and shale, vibrant and refreshing; a deep, dark Brouilly, with tingling, beckoning acidity for backbone, spicy black cherry and black currant flavors (with a flare of red plum) for flesh, and a heart of clean, mineral-laced tannins. A remarkable performance at this level. Drink now through 2014 to ’15. Excellent. About $16, Great Value.

Fleurie 2009 (Flower label). You could swim in the bouquet, dab it behind your ears, send it on an extraterrestrial voyage with a note that says, “Here’s what we smell like, lucky us” but, boy, after the panoply of generous black fruit scents, roses and violets, spicy and foresty elements, this is a pretty damned tight and closed-in wine, at this point rather overwhelmed by its tannic structure. Try from 2011 through 2015 or ’16. Very Good+. About $17.

Clos des Quatre Vents Fleurie 2009. This Fleurie from the “Walled Vineyard of the Four Winds” offers aromas of spiced, macerated and roasted black currants, black raspberries and mulberries in a base of smoky plums and graphite. It’s large in scale and mouth-filling, even for a Cru Beaujolais, but doesn’t lose the gamay grape’s signature poignant notes of ripe red raspberry, rose petals and brambles. Drink now through 2014 or ’15. Excellent. About $19.
Morgon 2009 (Flower label). A vivid assemblage of black cherry, red raspberry, baking spice, bitter chocolate, iron and shale, ensconced in a dark ruby-purple color. What more do you want? Very sleek and polished, yet the tannins are formidable and unexpectedly gritty. Still, black fruit flavors are ripe and juicy, and touches of rhubarb, licorice and a clean rooty element lend detail and dimension. Drink now through 2013 to ’15. Very Good+. About $15.

Domaine de la Chaponne Morgon 2009. At first this estate Cru Beaujolais seems subdued and restrained, but that’s because it’s marshaling its considerable reserves of intense shale-like minerality, concentrated black (and blue-tinged) fruit flavors and finely-milled tannins. It envelopes the nose and fills the mouth and is, altogether, as powerful expression of the gamay grape as I have seen, yet does power equal integrity? This is also the most syrah-like interpretation of a Cru Beaujolais that I have seen, or at least among this roster, so, yes, it offers attractions but to my mind loses focus and purpose a bit. Try from 2011 or ’12 through 2015 to ’17 and see if it comes to its senses. On the other hand, I mustn’t forget that Morgon is typically the largest, the deepest of the Cru Beaujolais. Very Good+. About $16.

Jean Descombes Morgon 2009. Back in December, I made the 2008 version of this wine my Wine of the Week. For 2009, it’s even better. Remarkable purity and intensity; wonderful depth and concentration and resonance. Dark and spicy black cherry and red raspberry fruit with a touch of tart mulberry — we have a mulberry tree in the front yard — and just a hint of violets; this is big, dry, deeply permeated by granite-like minerality and foresty elements, yet it doesn’t lose sight if its, um, site, that is to say in a commune noted for producing gamay wines of generosity and expansiveness. Try from 2012 or ’13 through 2016 to ’18. Excellent. About $17, representing Real Value.

Juliénas La TrinQuée 2009. Juliénas tends to be my favorite of the Cru Beaujolais, perhaps from nostalgia, because on my birthday in 1984, we drank a bottle of Duboeuf Julienas 1983, or simply because it embodies all the virtues of Cru Beaujolais without the occasional extremes; it’s not too floral and spicy, not is it as tannic and structured as Morgon and Moulin à Vent can be. Juliénas La TrinQuée 2009 is a wine of particular purity and intensity, resonance and vibrancy. It offers, paradoxically, the warmth of ripe, fleshy, meaty black and red fruit flavors with the coolness of granite and peat. Immensely appealing, powerful without being forceful, elegant without being fragile. Now through 2015 or ’16. Excellent. About $16, Great Value.

Juliénas Chateau des Capitans 2009. On the other hand, this is not my favorite Juliénas. Oh, it certainly displays tremendous purity and intensity — it practically vibrates in the glass — but in its wheatmeal-earthy-minerally nature, its rollicking spice and dusty, chewy tannins, I find it atypical of its grape and commune. It’s not enough merely to take the virtues of those essential entities and pump them up like sluggers on steroids. Or perhaps it just needs some time to find company manners, say from 2012 or ’13 through 2015 to ’17. Very Good+. About $20.
Moulin à Vent Domaine de la Tour de Bief 2009. Ripe, roasted and meaty, with black cherry and cassis scents and flavors stirringly imbued with penetrating graphite-like minerality and a dark, earthy, spicy element. Quite vibrant and resonant, real presence, yet neither heavy nor obvious; actually graced with an inner sense of delicacy and balance. Still — always the qualifying “still” — this rather quickly takes on the trappings of seriousness in the form of underbrush, a mossy note and a finish freighted with dry, tannic austerity. Among the most complex Cru Beaujolais wines I have encountered. Try from 2012 or ’13 through 2016 to ’18. Excellent. About $18, a Bargain for the Price.
Readers, this is the 700th post on BTYH since December 2006 when it started.

Last night we made one of our favorite warm — make that brutally hot — weather dishes, the pasta with cold tomato sauce from a book we have been using for years, Sally Schneider’s The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1990, large-format paperback edition, 1993). Our well-used copy of the book is thoroughly stained and grimy, surely a testimony to our affection.

Nothing could be simpler. While the pasta is cooking — last night it was fuselli farfalle (see response in comments below) — you strip the skin from fresh tomatoes by holding them over a flame for 30 seconds (Schneider’s method) or just hold them, one by one, in a slotted spoon in the boiling water for a few seconds (LL’s technique) and slip that skin off. Squeeze some of the juice out and then chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Add chopped fresh basil and two tablespoons of a mixture of fresh chopped herbs such as thyme, oregano and tarragon, our choice last night, some minced shallots, salt, pepper and splashes of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix together. When the pasta is ready, drain it, divide it among the bowls and spoon on the sauce. Schneider doesn’t call for cheese, but we usually add some shaved salada ricotta and maybe a little grated Parmesan and Pecorino. The hot pasta gently warms the sauce. That’s it, and it’s incredibly refreshing and delicious!

I opened a bottle of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009, from an exceptional vintage for that region, as indeed it is for much of France. Beaujolais-Villages is a designation and geographical area that lies between the more generic Beaujolais appellation, in the lowlands to the south, and the upland cru Beaujolais further north, where 10 villages or communes (the crus) are entitled to have their names alone on labels. All wines from Beaujolais, whatever the category, are made from 100 percent gamay grapes.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009 is rapturously pure and intense. The color is dark bluish ruby-purple with a black cherry-magenta rim. Penetrating aromas of spiced and macerated black cherries, mulberries and currants are touched with briers and brambles and a hint of shale. The segue to black cherry and currant flavors is seamless, and after a few minutes in the glass, the wine expands with elements of dusty leather, damp shale, violets and potpourri while vibrant acidity keeps the wine lively and attractive. In terms of structure and personality, this is clearly the best Beaujolais-Villages I have tasted from Georges Duboeuf. Now through 2011. Very Good+. About $10 to $12, a Raving Bargain.

Imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison, N.Y. A sample for review. Despite the date on the bottle in the image, the wine under review is the 2009. Why can’t companies keep their websites up-to-date? It’s so freaking annoying!