Here is another segment from the wonderful Christopher Burr, so we can all feel like a wine buff at our next dinner party! 🍷
Autumn days can be warm and sunny, but with a bite in the air; and at the end of such a warm, lovely summer, at least weather-wise, it is good to prolong light summery dishes of cold meats, grilled chicken breasts, poached fish and salads with the wines that go best with such dishes. At least before the cold days, big hearty stews and heavy rich red wines take over.
I love the light fresh reds from cooler climates; Germany, Alsace, Tasmania, the Loire Valley and Beaujolais. Wines made with grape varietals like the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Try like these wines served at a cool temperature, “fresh” if not slightly chilled, it brings out the delicious fruit flavours.
Some may remember the days when the UK retailers and wine trade made a big fuss about Beaujolais Nouveau, the young fruity wine just finished fermentation and then released, often with a much-publicised “race” on the 19th or 20th of November. This year Nouveau 2020 might be a few days early as the harvest has been early due to a very hot summer. I always wondered why people were so keen on this infant wine, particularly as it is best drunk slightly chilled on a hot day! Perhaps that is why it has almost died in the UK but is very popular still in the southern hemisphere, where they are just approaching summer.
But a series of good vintages in Beaujolais means that there is still young 2018 and 2019 Beaujolais on the shelves and online, including the more classy and exciting Villages wines. There are 38 Villages producing very individual wines with marked characteristics, from different soils, different aspects and sun exposure and altitude. All using the fruity Gamay grape, which is light, fresh and fruit-driven.
Now to the good stuff – The Recommendations.
Beaujolais Villages 2018 – Tesco & Ocado – £10-£11
There is a very good Beaujolais Villages 2018 by Louis Jadot from the Combe aux Jacques vineyard near the village of Regnie. Waitrose has another Jadot 2018 Beaujolais Villages. Quincie Beaujolais is a bit more expensive at £12.99, but has lots of lovely soft red fruits and red cherry character and a nice freshness.
Of course in Beaujolais one can move up to individual Village level, with such wonderful wines from Fleurie, Julienas, Brouilly, Morgon and Moulin a Vent to name some of the more well-known villages. Fleury and Julienas are at the more fragrant, elegant and perfumed end of the perfume spectrum, through to Moulin a Vent a more robust wine, and a wine which can age beautifully. I remember well tasting the 1943 Moulin a Vent, which was a good vintage but forgotten by the European war at that time and was delicious still full of fruit, but with the complexity of age. Tasting more like old pinot noir than Gamay.
One of the Villages is Saint Amour, but you rarely see it in the UK as it all gets drunk in France on Saint Valentine’s day 14th February!
Julienas, Domaine du Greffeur 2018 – The Wine Society Members – £9.50
My other favourite “cru” of top Beaujolais is Fleury. Majestic have George Duboeuf’s 2018 Fleurie with a flowery label for £9.99 for a mixed six.
The “King of Beaujolais”, as this great grower of top Beaujolais became known, died earlier this year at a ripe age. The industry owed him so much for helping put this underestimated region of Burgundy on the world-wide map. One might think the Fleurie aromas of bright red fruit and wildflowers had something to do with its name, it doesn’t, but the name Fleurie certainly describes it well.
The other wines I love to drink with lighter food and slightly cool, are reds from the Loire. They used to be very thin, lacking in fruit and depth due to these northerly grapes needing to be picked less ripe than optimal. But now, with better growing practices and some warmer summers, there are some great light reds. Sancerre Rouge made from Pinot Noir is pretty expensive, so I will steer you towards the wines made with Cabernet Fran. This grape is mainly grown as part of the blend in Bordeaux, but also does very well in warmer climates like Italy. In the Loire, it keeps its lovely fresh cranberry and red currant acidity and fruit, so when slightly chilled it can be delicious with grilled fish as well as meats.
The biggest reds come from Chinon, and I love the reds from Saumur Champaign. There are also lovely wines from Bourgueil and St Nicholas de Bourgueil. Berry Bros and Rudd have an excellent selection.
Waitrose also has a very good Saumur 2018 red called Les Nivieres, which is good value at £9.99. If you want something a bit fuller try the Chinon 2018 Lulu L’ Alouette at Majestic at £10.99 for a mixed six bottles.
I hope you find this selection interesting, the gentleness of these wine in both alcohol and heaviness of fruit make them perfect for lighter foods, and remember – keep cool!