The Perfect Summer Wine
A Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages will set you back about 11 bucks. The Beaujolais Villages from Maison Louis Jadot can be found for under 10.
Jadot's more upscale Beaujolais, its Chateau des Jacques lineup of Beaujolais crus, retails in the low $20 range. Ditto the Beaujolais crus from Duboeuf. I found the Duboeuf Beaujolais crus Brouilly for $23.
Those who equate price with quality might surmise that there is little to recommend in Beaujolais other than price, even at the top end. I would beg to differ. Beaujolais is the perfect summer wine.
First and foremost, quality runs very high throughout the Beaujolais district, situated at the southern tip of France's Burgundy region. The vast difference in price between Beaujolais and the red Burgundies of the Cote d'Or can be attributed to the grapes used in production.
The Cote d'Or Burgundies are made from pinot noir, Beaujolais from gamay. Pinot noir produces a deeper, more tannic red wine that often improves dramatically with age. The best can age for decades.
Gamay delivers a lighter, crisper red wine that is delicious from the moment it is bottled. A few of the crus Beaujolais, particularly from the villages of Moulin-a-Vent and Morgon, improve with age, but for the most part, Beaujolais is a "now" wine.
Its beauty is its freshness. Beaujolais is exceptionally versatile as well. In summer months, Burgundians serve it chilled. It can be served with meat or fish, and it is often served at the end of the meal with cheese. Its innate fruitiness allows it to complement slightly sweet sauces, while its savory side makes it a strong match for earthy dishes, game birds, rabbit and, of course, mushrooms.
Even at the villages level, its lowest, the wines tend to be well-balanced and drinkable.
Then there is the price. Delicious wines in the $10 range are a rare commodity. Except in Beaujolais.