Friday, February 20, 2009

Eager to Please, Elbows and Knees

When last I hung out with my friend Bill, he pontificated – briefly… he is a man of few words after all – on the pleasures of Beaujolais at the table and on the purity of its expression of vine and terroir. He must be rubbing off on me, as I’ve found myself turning to Beaujolais more and more often of late.

Beaujolais “Vieilles Vignes – Cuvée Traditionnelle,” Domaine du Vissoux (Pierre-Marie Chermette) 2007
$16. 11.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA.
It actually doesn’t take prodding at all for me to turn to any of Beaujolais from Pierre-Marie Chermette’s Domaine du Vissoux. I’ve been drinking them for well over ten years now and they consistently deliver. That said, my early memories of his “Cuvée Traditionnelle” are of a round, boldly fruit-driven wine. Perhaps it’s just my memory working tricks on me but assuming/hoping that’s not the case, I’ve noticed a transition toward a lighter, crisper style in the last few vintages.

That’s hardly a bad thing, as this is eminently quaffable yet still has an underlying element of complexity. It’s a complexity that does not demand attention; rather, it’s there, lurking in the background, ready to be embraced though just as happy to be ignored in favor of the wine’s simpler side. Bright, wild raspberry fruit dominates on the nose and palate, driven by crisp acidity and a dash of minerality. The wine is totally transparent, the only evidence of any wine making stamp is shown via what’s not there rather than what is. Chermette ferments using native yeasts, so there are none of the ubiquitous aromas of the cultured yeast strains used in the production of so much Gamay Beaujolais. And there’s no suggestion whatsoever of attempts toward concentration or extraction. Just pure, direct goodness, perfect for a lunch of country ham, crusty bread and a little coarse, whole-grain mustard.

Moulin-à-Vent “Cuvée Vieilles Vignes,” Domaine Diochon (Thomas Patenotre) 2007
$22. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, CA.
Bill’s discourse on Beujolais was inspired, I think, by a very fine bottle of the 2006 Moulin-à-Vent from Domaine Diochon that we shared that night. While enjoying the ’06, he warned me that he’d had some less rewarding experiences with the next vintage. Given that I already had a bottle of the ’07 at home, I took that as an assignment.

Bill was right. On the nose, this showed a strange brew of aromas ranging from washed rind cheese to stewed, muddled black fruit to charcoal, all wrapped around stemmy scents of green plant extract. The palate wasn’t any more pleasurable, with coarse texture on one side fighting with a slight spritziness on the other. I’d be happy to hear from others with experience with this vintage, as this may have been a bad bottle from a bad batch. But unless someone can convince me of that, I won’t be going back for more.


bill l said...

did you detect any heat damage in the diochon?
there was something really wrong with the bottle i drank awhile ago as i alluded too.

a recent (last couple nights) drink of 2007 foillard morgon cuvee corcelette, '07 coudert fleurie and the '07 cuvee tardive has me thinking that 2007 could be a stellar year in beajolais. all three were drinking well and have the stuffing to last quite awhile.

David McDuff said...

Heat damage is a distinct possibility, Bill. There wasn't any leakage but there was run-up on the cork and, as I mentioned, a stewy character in the fruit department. I'd like to taste a bottle that came through a different supply chain, perhaps from the NY rather than MD, market, for the sake of comparison.

bill l said...

at one time, maybe still the case, chambers had mags of the diochon and i thought about taking a chance but i ultimately passed. too much of chance at $70.00 to be disapointed.

even though cru beaujolais has passed the $20/ bottle mark the value is still there to make the wines good qpr's. i'm seriously going to be buying and stocking the cellar with lots of '06 and '07.

Tracie B. said...

hi david, i haven't had the diochon, but i had quite a lovely surprise in a bottle of lapierre morgon back in december, jeremy bought a 6 pack and we've been enjoying it since! it tastes like a salty cherry. yum.

David McDuff said...

Hey Tracie,
It's great to see you here. Salty cherry. yum. indeed. Must... drink... more... Lapierre!

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