The third Thursday of November is Beaujolais Nouveau day. The tradition of releasing young wines more or less 'straight from the barrel' goes back for the best part of 100 years, but is still popular across the globe. The grapes for these wines were still on the vine in mid-September, so being able to drink them in mid-November is quite extraordinarily for red wine. One secret to that is that Nouveau is made with a proportion of carbonic maceration, a fermentation that keeps tannins soft and fruit to the fore.
Much Bojo Novo is at best inoffensive and quaffable, but a few aspire to something greater; if not more 'serious', then certainly more interesting. This wine - from the Villages appellation of the best vineyards - is fermented with wild yeasts, has no added sulphites, and is certified Terra Vitis, ensuring minimal synthetic chemicals were used in the vineyard. Deep, tooth-staining purple in colour, it weighs in with a hearty 14% alcohol. Forget the bubblegum aromas of some examples, this is deeply hued with plum and dark cherry, gravel and a lapsang-souchong note that is smoky and dark. In the mouth fruit is wonderfully sweet, plump and pure, yet crunchy too with enough tannin and a vivid acidity freshening the finish.Â It is a delight, and available for under Â£11 per bottle by the case - even cheaper for bulk orders.
(2022) Yep, it's Bojo Novo day (Thursday November 17th 2022) but here's one that marches to a different beat: fermented with indigenous yeasts and with no added sulfites, it's a Beaujolais that could almost qualify as a 'natural wine', not farmed organically but in a strict eco-friendly and sustainable viticultural methodology, using no synthetic fungicides, insecticides, weed-killers or fertilisers. The colour is an astonishingly vivid deep purple, and the nose clear as a bell with scents of black cherry plus fine aromatic herbs and spices. In the mouth it bursts with fresh, crunchy black fruit. There's an inherent sweet fruit ripeness, but this is a dry and savoury wine, tannins and plum-skin gripping acidity extending the finish. Available by the dozen from Christopher Piper Wines (Christopher is also involved in making the wine) at the equivalent of Â£10.13 per bottle.
(2022) Cru Beaujolais made with whole-bunch fermentation and aged in cement tanks, this is fresh, and delicately cherry and floral scented. Loads of juicy, light- to medium-bodied fruit, like biting into a ripe plum crossed with a peach, plenty of sparky acidity and enough tannin to deliver a lovely mouthful of wine.
(2022) Though he has vineyards in various of the Cru villages, apparently winemaker Philippe Vermorel rates this as his personal favourite. I can see why with its joyous, smile-inducing aromas, so sleek and bursting with firm black cherry and zippy raspberry, the merest touch of lipsticky, more floral lift in the background. On the palate it really is a smooth devil, copious fruit is layered from start to finish, with a lovely gentle balance of tannin and acidity barely ruffling the picture.
(2019) Moving south of the CÃ´te d'Or and into Beaujolais for this Cru Brouilly wine, 100% Gamay and from a very good year, and made in stainless steel tanks. Beautifully expressive nose, all violets and lifted rose and cherry scents, there's a sense of real ripeness here, even touching on blackcurrant, and something gently spicy or smoky. In the mouth plenty of bouyant fruit, lithe and fresh with pert acidity and a nice rasp of tannins to show its more serious side, this is lovely and savoury Beaujolais of excellent quality. It finishes with a lick of spice and good fruit concentration.
(2019) Morgon is one of the 'Cru' villages where slate and granite soils are rich in maganese, and which produces some of my favourite Beaujolais wines. The vines here are over 50 years old, and the wine is vinified traditionally, not using the carbonic maceration technique. Delicious aromas, immediately appealing with its lightly spiced, slick black fruit, vinous with cherry and damson plum. In the mouth firm tannins and cherry-pit acidity give this a bit of tension and steeliness, the firm quality of the plummy fruit also savoury and umami-rich. A food wine for sure, watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas. Note too that Oddbins has been carrying this wine recently, though showing 'out of stock' at time of review.
(2019) From an estate owned by Louis Jadot, but run quite autonomously by Guillaume de Castelnau, this is serious Cru Beaujolais, aged in barrel. A little initial funkiness blows off quickly to reveal a charming nose, decidely Gamay with its floral and watercolour paint lift, but with a deeper fruitiness and touch of game adding complexity. In the mouth the sweet fruit impresses in its purity, ripe and tart cherry and black berries, and there is grip here, a firm spicy tannin and very good acidity. This improved with air and might well benefit from ageing a little, or decanting an hour before serving.
(2018) Like the superb Morgon from this Domaine, this CÃ´te de Brouilly is no shrinking violet with 14.3% alcohol from the super and hot 2015 vintage. It has similar density and power, but wrapped in a slightly firmer cloak of tannins and acidity, more savoury, dark and spicy in character, the more opulent Morgon having a little more come-hither charm. But the meaty concentration here is admirable, some brighter red fruit acidity honing the edges, in a Beaujolais that would sit very happily with a steak.