It has been a charmed decade for Beaujolais producers and 2009 is highly anticipated as the best yet. First there was 2003, possibly the best Beaujolais vintage in at least 40 years, producing deliciously round, richly fruited wines and then quickly followed two years later by the well hyped and overall excellent 2005 vintage where the Cru Beaujolais I tasted generally seemed more balanced with less emphasis on 2003’s ripeness. With vintages two years apart that blew away anything that I know about from Beaujolais since at least the 70’s, here comes 2009 with “vintage of a lifetime” hype. The wines are making their way into market now and it seems like there is a major buying and drinking opportunity in the $12-$35 range for now and, in some cases, 15 years or more forward. What’s going on in Beaujolais?
In the process of organizing a dozen of these 2009’s for a blind tasting later this winter, I stuffed a bottle of Burgaud’s ’09 Chateau De Thulon Beaujolais Villages into a small box of wines I would open during this leaf-peeping Columbus Day weekend at our home in northern New England. I paid $12 for the wine, but I have seen it for as little as $10.50. Eric Broege at Vintages visited with Jean-Marc Burgaud earlier this year in Morgon and has not really stopped talking about these wines since. The Chateau De Thulon is Burgaud’s entry level bottling, and it drinks like anything but entry level. As a matter of fact, it is such a serious bottle of wine that I am hard pressed to recall any recently tasted $12 wine that drank more pleasurably and seriously as this one.
In the glass there is tremendous clarity in its true and pure red color that flirts with purple in the middle and pink at the edge. Black fruit is immediately detectable on the nose, but like the rest of the tasting experience, it does not dominate the aroma and is balanced by a quick shot of smoke, gunpowder, and a very manageable, pretty, and spicy stink. These notes mesh with each other really well to create a compelling singular aromatic message. You can smell the freshness, the fruit, metal, and the spice dancing with each other in perfect harmony. Pardon me, but I am in utter shock that this is a $12 wine.
The first impression I had as it rolled around my mouth was the fresh and rich black cherry fruit, but that moment was short lived as intense and bright acidity gripped the sides of my tongue and a saline flavor persisted as the wine finished. I made a note to myself right there that the length of this wine also defies its price tag. And as the wine flavors lingered in my nose and the acidity facilitated a flavorful and full finish of black fruit I shook my head in recognition. 2009, Burgaud, and even this village blend from the granite hillsides of Lantignié, seem to be exactly what the hype suggests. If this one entry level village wine is any kind of vintage marker, then the hot year, June rains, dry July and August, small berries, thick skins, and low yields have combined into one large and serious buying and drinking opportunity.
I did a quick check of Chambers Street Wines in New York City and all of these 2009 Beaujolais are currently in stock and come critically recommended. They will ship out of state so enjoy and don’t overlook the Chateau De Thulon from Burgaud.