Sunday, February 13, 2011

2009 Beaujolais, Or At Least Four of Them

Apologies if you're bored by coverage of the Beaujolais 2009 vintage, but I thought I'd toss in my two cents, anyway. Skepticism of hyped vintages is always warranted, even if the hype is not coming from the major magazines, especially as such vintages described as "easy" from the grower's perspective can be overly soft from my perspective. To take one small example, many 2005 Loire whites seem to be low in acid and/or overly alcoholic. And obviously bad wine can be found in every actually-great vintage.

So I applied a jaundiced eye toward 2009 Beaujolais, and at first my skepticism seemed appropriate given one rather ho-hum bottle I had and another that showed California weight allied with simplistic overripe flavors, and which was almost bad. But these were feints, as I found some from reliable producers that are not just fresh and lovely and drinkable right now (I find that cru Beaujolais typically needs at least 2 full years from harvest, if not more, to show well), but which are even deeper and and more complete than usual, and which therefore seem to justify much of what I've read. Sure, time will tell, but sometimes the time to ask is right now.

Pierre Chermette Beaujolais 2009
Certainly I would expect this bottle to be lighter and more now-ish than any of the below cru wines, but I was pretty surprised by just how ethereal this was, and just how engaging I found it. It's sappy and long and stony, but not complicated. It's fermented in concrete and stainless steel solely with indigenous yeasts and it's a joyful wine for drinking right now — heck, right this minute, if you have a bottle handy.

Christian Ducroux Régnié 2009
This is a terrific expression of granitic Beaujolais, unsulfured and very clean. Initially the semi-carbonic fruitiness struck me as a bit rote, but the wine blossomed over a few nights and in the end it seemed lively yet contemplative. It's a wine that enunciates. It's nicely structured (the acidity is prominent without being sharp), stony and a bit peppery, with lovely raspberry fruit.

Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2009
When I touched this bottle at a local shop, I thought, "Wow, it's hot. I'd better buy this certainly-ruined wine so that people are not misled into thinking Lapierre makes crap." Perversely, I later thought, "I can't open this, it's too young to show well." I opened it anyway, and found I was wrong on two counts. This was not merely sound, approachable, and tasty, it was subtle, impeccable, multidimensional, complex, and harmonious. The stuff was cranking. Sour cherry, chorizo, mushroom, and rhubarb aromas carried over to the palate and were joined by granite-derived black pepper and coriander spice, a subtly tannic structure, and juicy boysenberry fruit. So fresh. So pure. So long. How so young a wine can be both complete now and also ageworthy is a notion I cannot address. RIP M. Lapierre.

Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette Cuvée Tardive 2009
Katherine Hepburn as a wine. The 2009 Cuvée Tardive (which is not a late harvest wine, but rather a wine made from old, even 80 year old, vines) is firm and structured right out of the gate, with an upright, formal bearing that keeps you at arm's length; you have to admire it from afar at first. Soon enough it turns more inviting, whereupon you can banter with its complex beauty. Strawberries and crushed raspberries, polished stones, savory spices, black pepper, red floral elements, and a touch of smoke, all delivered with suave sophistication. It's concentrated, with fine and structured tannins, but shows little weight. This is gonna last a loooong time.

No comments: