Cru Beaujolais 2017
Cru Beaujolais has surely never been more popular with somms and wine aficionados than it is today and with all the noise about the 2017 vintage I wanted to see which wines in the UK market would offer the best case buy for cellaring. Those familiar with this blog will know it was a Morgon that introduced me to the pleasure of great Beaujolais 15 years ago and since that day I’ve ensured I had some good cru Beaujolais in the cellar to pull out and enjoy! This March I purchased six of the best cru Beaujolais from Berry Bros and Rudd. In the spirit of fun, myself and some friends pitted them against one another to see which of the 2017 cru Beaujolais wines were the best buy for enjoying today and over the next decade. Enter the Instagram competition to win a case of winning wine!
What is Cru Beaujolais?
Produced from a single grape variety; Gamay, Beaujolais comes in a variety of styles from those that are very light and should be drunk immediately to those who benefit from cellaring and can rival the complexity of some of their Burgundian near neighbours and many styles in between.
At the bottom of the Beaujolais quality pyramid is the once highly anticipated, light and speedily released Beaujolais Nouveau. A step up from Bojo Nouveau is standard label “Beaujolais” which accounts for around half the total production. If you’re looking for a leap in quality from standard Beaujolais then Beaujolais-Villages, produced in the hillier part of the region offers exceptional value for money. However, the pinnacle of production is cru Beaujolais, that is wine produced in the 10 cru vineyard areas of Morgon, Moulin a Vent, Brouilly, Fleurie, Regnie, Julienas, St Amour, Chenas, Chiroubles and Cote de Brouilly.
Not all crus are created equal. There are vast style differences even between crus and of course, within crus, as different winemakers impart their own personalities and one Morgon is often quite different from another.
2017 was an exceptional vintage in Beaujolais and for this reason the very best cru Beaujolais will go on a fascinating journey of evolution in cellar – shedding some of that pure fruit concentration of cherries and red fruit and evolving some enticing tertiary characteristics. There’s no better time to stock up on a case buy of cru Beaujolais for this reason, and I wanted the best!
The Berrys Beaujolais 2017 taste off
The six bottles were chosen from a range of around a dozen from cru styles I already knew I enjoyed, Morgon, Moulin a Vent and Brouilly, only the Regnie was a newcomer for me but stylistically half way between the Morgon and Brouilly. It’s fair to say that all these wines are on the bolder, structured side of cru Beaujolais.
Jean-Marc Burgaud – Côte du Py Morgon 2017 – £18.95
Tight nose, this wine needs two hours in the decanter. When the wine opens up its fruity and lush with notes of cherry, strawberry, cranberry, blackberry, chocolate and pepper. This is bold and structured to the point where it’s simply not ready today but will surely evolve into a spectacular Morgon. 90 points.
Chateau Thivin – Les Griottes de Brulhié 2017 – £22.95
Darker than all the other wines between ruby/purple with a fruit forward and complex nose with vanilla, chocolate, red fruits, fresh cherries, leather, earth and pepper. By far the most complex of all the wines on the nose and palate. It’s still a Bojo so the wine is still fairly light bodied but there’s enough structure here to last a decade. Long mineral finish. The closest to red Burgundy of the six. 93 points.
Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes – Corcelette Morgon 2017 – £19.95
Once again very tight on the nose not much more today to this than red fruit, cranberry, strawberry, red cherry and a hint of spice. High acid. Just strawberries for me, very one note and linear and with a moderate finish. 87 points.
Olivier Merlin – La Rochelle Moulin à Vent 2017 – £23.95
Opens up after a couple of hours with moderately pronounced aromas of strawberry, red fruit, raspberry and a touch of earth, wild mushroom and green bell pepper. Pleasant. On the palate the wine is very acidic with medium alcohol and medium body with low tannins. The luscious red fruit profile continues all the way to the medium + finish. 91 points.
Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes – La Voûte Saint-Vincent – £15.95
The most immediately expressive and complex of all the wines on the nose with classic strawberries, cherry, earth and some pepper and mineral notes. Low but fine tannins, low body, moderate alcohol and high acidity with a simple cherry and mineral profile on the palate though a little clipped. Probably the best short term drinking VFM but not the case buy. 90 points.
Domaine Julien Sunier – Regnie – £23.50
Another tight nose but notes of raspberry, strawberry, licorice and some floral aromas too produce the prettiest nose that isn’t too complex but very attractive. The palate is again light as expected with high acidity and perhaps the most delicious, meatier and fullest fruit palate but without as much potential for ageing. 92 points.
The winner: The Chateau Thivin Brouilly was the surprise winner. I had stacked the field with Morgon’s and yet despite clear bias on my part the Brouilly was the clear winner with the Regnie in second! There’s a case of the Thivin for me and a case for the lucky Instagram winner on the way in April. I can’t wait to see how the Brouilly evolves over the coming decade.