The Perfect Summer Wine

By Robert Whitley

July 23, 2019 5 min read

A Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages will set you back about 11 bucks. The Beaujolais Villages from Maison Louis Jadot can be found for under 10.

Jadot's more upscale Beaujolais, its Chateau des Jacques lineup of Beaujolais crus, retails in the low $20 range. Ditto the Beaujolais crus from Duboeuf. I found the Duboeuf Beaujolais crus Brouilly for $23.

Those who equate price with quality might surmise that there is little to recommend in Beaujolais other than price, even at the top end. I would beg to differ. Beaujolais is the perfect summer wine.

First and foremost, quality runs very high throughout the Beaujolais district, situated at the southern tip of France's Burgundy region. The vast difference in price between Beaujolais and the red Burgundies of the Cote d'Or can be attributed to the grapes used in production.

The Cote d'Or Burgundies are made from pinot noir, Beaujolais from gamay. Pinot noir produces a deeper, more tannic red wine that often improves dramatically with age. The best can age for decades.

Gamay delivers a lighter, crisper red wine that is delicious from the moment it is bottled. A few of the crus Beaujolais, particularly from the villages of Moulin-a-Vent and Morgon, improve with age, but for the most part, Beaujolais is a "now" wine.

Its beauty is its freshness. Beaujolais is exceptionally versatile as well. In summer months, Burgundians serve it chilled. It can be served with meat or fish, and it is often served at the end of the meal with cheese. Its innate fruitiness allows it to complement slightly sweet sauces, while its savory side makes it a strong match for earthy dishes, game birds, rabbit and, of course, mushrooms.

Even at the villages level, its lowest, the wines tend to be well-balanced and drinkable.

Then there is the price. Delicious wines in the $10 range are a rare commodity. Except in Beaujolais.

Tasting Notes

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Merry Edwards 2016 Pinot Noir, Meredith Estate, Russian River Valley ($68) — The Meredith Estate, one of Merry's favorite vineyards, produced a wine in 2016 that exhibits exceptional fruit purity and an intense aroma of black cherry that has oak vanillin in counterpoint. Showing impressive depth and length on the palate, this is a scintillating pinot that will please now and over the next eight to 10 years. Rating: 95.

Eberle 2018 Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard, Paso Robles ($26) — This winery is famous for its reds, particularly the cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel and red Rhone-style blend, but you shouldn't overlook the excellent chardonnay. Cooling evening breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean benefit the estate vineyard and preserve the freshness and snap in the Eberle chardonnay. The 2018 offers exquisite balance and notes of apple, pear and lemon creme, with a touch of wood spice for added complexity. Rating: 92.

Morgan 2017 Syrah 'G 17,' Santa Lucia Highlands ($25) — Morgan hit all the right notes with this syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands. The nose is floral with a hint of wood spice followed by ripe blueberry, red currant and blackberry fruit on the palate. Smooth tannins ensure pleasurable consumption now and for the foreseeable future. Rating: 91.

MacRostie 2016 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($34) — The 2016 Sonoma Coast pinot from MacRostie is short on color but long on flavor, with bright notes of cherry and strawberry; smooth tannins; and beautiful elegance and balance throughout the surprisingly long finish. Rating: 90.

ROAR 2017 Pinot Noir, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($58) — While some of the 2017s from the Santa Lucia Highlands are light and pale, the Soberanes Vineyard delivers an expressive pinot with notes of ripe cherry and violets. Smooth tannins make for easy drinking now. Rating: 90.

Haedus 2018 Rose, Cotes de Provence, France ($22) — Showing the pale onion-skin color typical of Provence rose, the 2018 Haedus is fresh on the palate with notes of strawberry and citrus. It finishes crisp and clean, just how you want it on a sunny summer day. Rating: 89.

Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Email Robert at [email protected]

Photo credit: Tama66 at Pixabay

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