Vol. 1, No. 21, June 7, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
The other side of Beaujolais
As far as I'm concerned, that makes this a perfect time to take a taste of the other end of the regional spectrum, the so-called "Cru" wines of Beaujolais. Cru is one of those French wine terms that's both hard to translate and surprisingly hard for English-speaking tongues to utter for a word of only three letters. (Say "crew" and you'll be in the ballpark, although nobody will mistake you for a Frenchman.) Literally it means "growth," but in winespeak it usually refers to a specific vineyard, often regarded as being of exceptional quality.
That's just the case in Beaujolais, where 10 specific "crus" are so well-regarded that the wines they make are sold under their own names. You'll find the word "Beaujolais" nowhere on the label, although they proudly assert the legal right to declare themselves "Red Burgundy Wine," despite being made of Beaujolais' Gamay grape rather than Burgundy's Pinot Noir.
Look for these 10 "Cru" names -- Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour -- and be prepared for a delicious wine-tasting treat. Like the Nouveau and the simpler Beaujolais, "Crus" share the region's style of ripe, soft, and immensely fruity wines for which the French have the lusty term "gouleyant" ("gulpable"); but they add a level of structure, complexity and balance that you rarely find in the simpler wines. It's even possible to "cellar" these wines for a few years, under good storage conditions, but I find it hard to keep my hands off them when they're young and fresh. Finally, if the summer sun is blazing out of doors, there's no shame in placing your "Cru" in the refrigerator long enough to give it a slight, refreshing chill.
If you've got a favorite Beaujolais or a tale to tell about the wine or the region, please write me at email@example.com and tell me about it. And, as always, don't hesitate to drop us a line if you'd like to comment on our topics and tasting notes, suggest a topic for a future bulletin, or just talk about wine.
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A classic "Cru" Beaujolais
Dark garnet, with delicious blueberry and raspberry aromas. Very ripe and juicy fruit flavor, the "bowl-of-fruit" quality that makes the better Beaujolais so delicious, with the good, firm structure that crisp acidity brings. A first-rate wine, harmonious and balanced, and it's delicious lightly chilled on a simmering summer evening. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., NYC. (June 4, 1999)
FOOD MATCH: Hits the spot with an aromatic but not overly fiery bowl of Szechwan-style spicy beef noodles.
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