The crumbs from some tables can be worth waiting on.
So it was with the scraps from a recent World of Fine Wine tasting on 9th February 2017 focussing on 2015 Beaujolais. The bottles, once tasted by Andrew Jefford, Alex Hunt and Peter Liem, were commandeered by Christina at Westbury Communications and collated downstairs at Greg Andrew’s D’Vine Cellars.
And so, on a bitterly cold February evening featuring horizontal sleet, members of the wine trade gathered to taste that quintessential summer drink, beaujolais.
This tasting focussed on the 10 leading villages, or cru, that make up a bit less than half of the region’s production. It is here that gamay reaches its apex, although, like nebbiolo in Italy, there doesn’t seem to be a wide array of international competition to compare it alongside.
Overall, the 2015 vintage was warm – done-and-dusted by 15th September – and you can taste it. Colours are deep, tannins are significantly higher than usual and in some cases alcohols were declared around 14-14.5%. So, as with many highly rated vintages, they are atypical in their concentration and structure. Good news if you want to age beaujolais (a very honourable course; good luck to you) but perhaps less so for those of us who want to get stuck in.
For those wines which have managed to maintain balance, the future seems very promising, much in the style of 2009. However, not many wines managed to transcend the heat and retain the lightness of touch that makes these wines really joyous to drink.
There was a corked bottle of Chateau de Chatelard Fleurie which did no one any favours, and Domaine Joncy Cote de Brouilly gets a special mention for being the first wine to taste like blackcurrant Dioralyte and taleggio in a glass.
My picks were as follows and they are all, to a man, better value than anything I’ve tasted from the Cote d’Or in 2015.
Daniel Bouland Chantenay Chiroubles
Spicy black fruit with plenty to chew on, but it’s not extracted or thick. Lively and refreshing with substance and balance.
Antoine Sunier Regnie
A distinctive sherbet character gives lift and the sensation of powdered stones alongside crisp fruit and a fine texture.
Guy Breton Regnie
Perfumed with violets, allied with a delicate, lithe, expressive palate. Delightful.
Christophe Pacalet Saint Amour
From his bought-in fruit, this is tangy with a lot of acidity, counterpointed by some kitschy fruit and a petrichor smokiness.
Christophe Pacalet Fleurie
Energetic, fresh, just the right side of sour. Crunchy and vibrant.
Jean-Paul Brun Pisse Vieille Brouilly
Polished and Burgundian in style (cf. Ch des Jacques) but this is long and fine with plenty of fruit. The 2015 seems to suit the Cote d’Or approach more than typical years.
Jean Paul Brun ‘Terres Dorees’ Cote-de-Brouilly
Very distinctive with a faintly reductive, wet match/damp charcoal quality. Very fresh, vibrant black fruit. Persistent and intriguing. Will be interesting to see how this evolves.
Anne-Sophie Dubois L’Alchemiste Fleurie
Cherries and earth, defying the vintage to provide ethereal finesse and the exuberant moreishness that Fleurie can do so well. Long.
Domaine Chignard Les Moriers Fleurie
Turns out these are quite famous. Well, this was lovely – stony, earthy, with petrichor and a resonant quality on the palate.
Julien Sunier Fleurie
A little wild, with some of that sherbet character in his brother’s wine that reminds me here of bath salts. It’s more noticeable in this wine. Lively, silky red cherries.
Chateau Thivin Les Septs Vignes Cote de Brouilly
Low-toned, serious, substantial – this vintage suits the more brooding Thivin style. Black fruit, long and concentrated – one to cellar for a few years, but one of the highlights of the tasting. (No La Chapelle on offer but on the evidence of this I bet it is stunning.)
Les Roches Bleues Cote de Brouilly
Super fresh, crunchy and mouthwatering. Not complex but a very finessed effort for the vintage. Serve chilled, by the pint, with rillettes and cornichons.
Domaine des Chers/Antoine Briday Chenas
Extremely floral – violet, geranium. Pretty and lively.
Domaine Piron Quartz Chenas
Possibly my favourite of the tasting – closed on the nose but the palate is superb with lots of sap and spice, intensity and texture. Tightly wound, the only analogy I can give for this is like tasting a top young GG riesling. Huge potential.
Domaine Piron La Chanaise Morgon
Polished and rich with immaculate balance. Dry finish, lots of potential. One to age.
Domaine Lagneau Cuvee Didier Morgon
Elegant with lots of juicy and a fluid, flowing texture that is hard to describe. There is a subtle persistence too. Stylish.
Jean Foillard Corcelette Morgon
Biscuity and spicy with a certain yeastiness. Long and earthy with raspberry pip notes. Fruit of the earth – concentration and flavour without weight. Delicate for the vintage.
Jean Foillard Cote du Py Morgon
Darker fruit tones than usual – lots of blackberries, very juicy, hard to resist drinking it all now but do try and hold on to some.
Lapierre Cuvee Camille Morgon
Wild and funky with rich tea notes. Superbly elegant and light on its feet. Blink and you’ll miss it.