I must admit that Beaujolais never used to excite me the slightest. However, having received the invite by the Inter-Beaujolais, the trade body responsible for the promotion of the wines from the region, I obliged. In retrospect, I am extremely pleased, because it is one of the most memorable tastings as far as changing my opinion about a region is concerned. Forget the ultra-thin, overtly juicy and exuberantly fruity style of the Beaujolais Nouveau. Instead welcome the light to medium bodied, succulent fruity wines with a melange of floral scents and spicy perfumes. In the first part, I shall focus on what accounts for 1% of the total production; the white wines.
Beaujolais, though the southern-most part of the greater Burgundy region, could not be more unlike its northerly neighbour. The limestone bedrock changes mostly for granite and schist making the region suitable for Gamay rather than Pinot Noir. However, there are some limestone outcrops and these are perfect for growing Chardonnay, which provides the base material for Beaujolais Blanc.
I tasted a dozen of these blancs. In general, they are attractive with their true varietal expressions of fresh apples, zesty citrus and minerals. What makes them stand apart from other Chardonnays though is the scented nose and perfumed mouthfeel. Anyone who goes to the ABC church, aka Anything But Chardonnay, should give a chance to these wines, as they are nothing like their big, buttery, creamy and oaky relatives from farther North or from the New World.
As the best value for money I would recommend Maison Loron’s Les Ronzettes 2011 for €7.65 a bottle or if you want to splash out more to enjoy a somewhat more complex and heavier wine, you should be thinking of a Villages level white, such as Domaine Arnaud Aucoeur’s Vieilles Vignes 2011 at £10.95 a bottle.For the rest of the whites, see the notes below. They include agent, retailer and price and are presented in order of tasting.
Beaujolais Blanc, Les Ronzettes, Maison Loron 2011
Medium deep lemon with shiny white gold. Quite lively nose, floral and citrus fruits. Dry, medium acidity, lively and mid-weight body, lots of limestone. Very good grasp. Long finish. (16.2)
€7.65 Agent: Anthony Sykes (01491 836 526). Retailer: not known.
Beaujolais Blanc, Terra Iconia, Vignerons des Pierres Dorees, Alliance des Vignerons du Beaujolais 2011
Light lemon, pink hue. Rose water, citrus, racing acids, thin and lean body. Lots of minerals on the back-palate. Medium finish. (15.8)
€5-7 Agent: not represented in the UK yet.
Beaujolais Blanc, Manoir du Carra 2010
Watery, light lemon core. Zesty, piercing acids, weak body and pungent white grapefruits, a creamy touch lingers. Long. (15.7)
£11.95 Agent: Carte Blanche Wines (01256 772 233) or Winegrowers Supplies (01643 841 505). Retailer: Ten Acre Wines.
Beaujolais Blanc, Cuvee du Chateau, Chateau de Blaceret-Roy 2010
Pronounced lemon. Slight oxidative tone, apple peals, grapey and lemon. A bit of straw and dust on a very fresh palate. Lots of weight and very long. As if a bit old-fashioned, but lovely. (16)
€5-7 Agent: not represented in the UK yet.
Beaujolais Blanc, Georges Duboeuf 2010
Medium deep lemon. Restrained nose with lemon, apple and straw. Dry, very fresh, but well balanced with ripe fruits of apple and pear. Short. (15.4)
€3.55 Agent: Berkmann Wine Cellars (0207 609 4711). Retailer: not in retail yet.
Beaujolais Blanc, Jean-Paul Brun 2010
Light gold. Rose petals, apples, straw, quite perfumed. Thin, sharp and medium concentration, quite perfumed. Medium on the finish. (15.9)
£11 Agent: Savage Selection (01451 860 896). Retailer: same as agent.
Beaujolais Blanc, En Fut, Jean-Paul Brun 2010
Brass lemon. Straw, pear, rose and citrus. Full-bodied for a Beaujolais, lots of concentration. A great mix of fruit and tiny oak. Medium finish. (16.1)
£14.40 Agent: Savage Selection (01451 860 896). Retailer: same as agent.
Beaujolais Blanc, Henry Fessy 2009
Medium lemon, very restrained nose and palate. Apples, straw, tiny camomile. Unfolds, but it becomes broad and lacks focus. Medium finish. (15.5)
£11.55 Agent: Louis Latour Agencies (0207 409 7276). Retailer: www.slurp.co.uk
Beaujolais Blanc, Accord MajOEur Reserve Particuliere OEdoria 2009
Medium lemon. Very restrained, basic complexity of ripe apples. Medium fresh, quite unexciting. (15.2)
€4.69 – not present in the UK.
Beaujolais-Villages Blanc, Cuvee Marguerite, Chateau Thivin 2011
Medium golden. Quite perfumed, camomile, lemon zest and lots of concentration, sharp lines. Medium finish (15.8)
£13.54 Agent and retailer: Christopher Piper Wines Ltd. (01404 814 139)
Beaujolais-Villages Blanc, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Arnaud Aucoeur 2011
Bright lemon, tiny pink hue. Very fresh and zesty. Lemon peel, grapefruit, lots of lees, rose water. Very fragrant, lovely minerals. (16.3)
£10.95 Agent and retail: Yapp Brothers (01747 860 423)
Beaujolais-Villages Blanc, Domaine des Nugues 2011
Pronounced citrus, very floral, rose, lime, lemon and pear. Very complex, fresh, lovely balance with the alcohol though. White peppery finish. (16)
€9.50 Agent and retail: not in the UK yet.