Wine: Compelling case for undervalued Beaujolais

Beaujolais is thought to share an underlying granite rock base with the Northern Rhone. Picture: Contributed

Beaujolais is thought to share an underlying granite rock base with the Northern Rhone. Picture: Contributed

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WITH both Burgundy and Rhone reds commanding high prices, wine enthusiasts seeking more bangs for their bucks are turning to the undervalued masterpieces of Beaujolais.

Despite different grape varieties, a contrast with those regions is not a totally preposterous concept. Beaujolais is thought to share an underlying granite rock base with the Northern Rhone, while many modern Beaujolais producers are adopting more Burgundian winemaking techniques.

Add in several high-quality recent vintages and the seriously neglected aging capacity of wines from communes like Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent, and the case becomes compelling. After all, nowhere on God’s earth induces the humble gamay to yield such vital, juicy and easy drinking wines as Beaujolais.

Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent are two of the ten Beaujolais Cru at the northern end of the region; all ten have heaven-sent terroir and, hence, the best wines. Top soils there vary considerably though, so differences between those crus can be appreciable – but all produce more serious wines than the next quality level down, Beaujolais Villages.

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of impressive versions of that genre, such as the light, uncomplicated strawberry-charged 2013 Beaujolais Villages Les Merrains, Ferraud (£10.05 at Alexander Wines, Hillington, Glasgow, www.alexander-wines.co.uk).

Among the crus, though, 2011 Louis Jadot Poncereau Fleurie (£14.95 at www.fieldandfawcett.co.uk) is tasty fare with its juicy, nutty and perfumed red cherry flavours. Equally enjoyable is 2013 Morgon Domaine Ferraud Les Charmes (£12.65 at Alexander Wines again) where the rich fruit benefits from an appealing earthy backdrop.

My pick though is 2010 Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent (£13.99 at Luvians Bottle Shop, St Andrews). Along with much of that excellent vintage, it is maturing nicely and now provides real depth behind its ripe, bold and bright raspberry, plum and black cherry fruit, and the hint of cloves that leads into its slightly sweet finish.

BEST BUYS

2013 Domaine Durieu Ventoux, Rhone, France, 14.5 per cent

Exactly what good Rhone reds should be but, because it is from a less-fashionable part, at a great price. Its opening fruit aromas beckon invitingly towards the grenache-led raspberry and ripe cherry fruit, and the nutty cinnamon and vanilla influences that underpin it. The whole thing is masterfully balanced with fresh, lively acidity, yet a well-judged concluding tannic twist.

£8.95 at From Vineyards Direct

2013 Warwick The First Lady Unoaked Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 13 per cent

Canadian Norma Ratcliffe of the Warwick Estate was one of South Africa’s first women winemakers and this wine is named in her honour. Without oak influences, freshness and crispness move centre stage to accentuate the wine’s citrus acidity, but there remains a smooth and buttery finish to complement the long, primary Seville marmalade flavours.

£8.95 at the Wine Society

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