A taste of Nouveau (and more)
For all of my trash-talking commentary about Beaujolais Nouveau in Monday's edition, my true colors emerged last night when, bellying up to a brand-new wine bar in my neighborhood, I spotted a just-arrived Nouveau on the by-the-glass list.
Naturally, I couldn't resist giving it a try.
And if the truth be told, the stuff wasn't bad. The fiery summer of 2003 in Europe appears to have been a good thing in the vineyards, at least as far as Beaujolais Nouveau is concerned. In contrast with cooler, damper seasons, this year's heat fostered full ripening and an early harvest, which offered the Beaujolais producers two advantages: Luscious fruit and a little extra time between picking the grapes and moving out the bottles.
While Nouveau is often thin and sour, my first sample of this year's crop - the standard offering from Georges Duboeuf, whose massive production has earned him the nickname "King of Beaujolais" - rose well above my diminished expectations for the genre. Here's a brief tasting report:
Georges Duboeuf 2003 Beaujolais Nouveau ($5/glass restaurant price)
Its simple, fruit-forward ripeness made it a better candidate for a pre-dinner quaff than a serious companion with food, but it made a nice salute to the summer just past. With dinner, though, our party moved on to other wines, taking advantage of the tasting-bar setting to sample single glasses and half-size tasting portions of three other reds on the list, all from the U.S. West Coast. I'll round out today's article with a quick tasting report:
Powers 2001 Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon ($5.25/glass)
Leaping Lizard 2001 Napa Valley Merlot ($6/glass)
Rabbit Ridge 2001 Paso Robles Primitivo ($6.50/glass)
(For the benefit of any of you who live in or are traveling through my part of the world, by the way, the wine bar I mentioned is the brand-new L&N Wine Bar and Bistro in Louisville, an attractive new spot in a historic 1850s house at 1765 Mellwood Ave., where the Clifton neighborhood segues into Butchertown. Last night's dinner was a "soft" opening for practice; the wine-bar/restaurant opens to the public on Monday.)
DID YOU TRY A NOUVEAU?
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Friday, Nov. 21, 2003