Monday, November 12, 2007

Morgon, Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) 2005

When’s the last time you picked up a bottle of wine that told you right on the front label that it should be decanted? Not exactly an everyday occurrence, I suspect. But that’s exactly what Jean-Paul Brun tells us to do with his 2005 Morgon. France is the last country from which I would expect to see that kind of direction, as French wineries tend to be about as hands-off as they come in terms of “label talk.” And for many people, I suspect that Beaujolais might be one of the last regions from which such instruction might seem likely, much less prudent. But Brun, in any number of ways, doesn’t seem afraid to be different. Not only does he flaunt his name on the front label of the bottle – it appears three times in various forms along with that note to decant – but he also provides quite a little narrative about his winemaking techniques on the rear étiquette.

Whatever you might think of this rather interventionist presentation of a wine made in a fastidiously non-interventionist manner, the quality of the wine speaks for itself. Brun adamantly refuses to use the cultured yeasts so prevalent in Beaujolais production, instead preferring to rely on the yeasts indigenous to his vineyards. The resulting wine reflects that choice, showing none of the tell-tale “Gamay Beaujolais” aromas that make many a Bojo jump out as dead obvious in blind tastings. Nonetheless, typicity still shines through. This is textbook Morgon, in the best possible sense.

When first opened and poured straight from the bottle, the wine is reticent, tight, firm and a bit narrow on the palate. Aromas emerge of cinnamon bark, cocoa and wild raspberries. After decanting, per J-P’s instructions, the wine expands to show sweeter raspberry fruit and a suggestion of framboise liqueur. Black raspberry and confectionery notes emerge as evolution continues in the glass and the decanter. There’s also persistent grip coming from very finely grained tannins, along with a refreshingly crunchy acid balance. After an hour of air, the wine continues to develop into caressing notes of french vanilla-laced black cherry ice cream. And finally, it’s all topped off with a sudden emergence of pipe tobacco and menthol aromas.

The alcohol level of record is 12%, seemingly in keeping with the Brun literature that makes much ado about his preference for lower alcohol Beaujolais which is only lightly, if at all, chaptalized. My palate tells me, however, that this bottle comes in closer to 13.5%. Legs galore, though not always meaningful, would seem to second that suggestion. The 1.5% flex in alcohol labeling requirements for French wine would certainly make this variance within the realm of possibility. If you’re lurking out there, Mr. Dressner, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this….

As beneficial as decanting turned out to be, it’s also worthwhile to heed Monsieur Brun’s advice to drink rapidly after opening (…consommer rapidement après débouchage). While development over the course of a couple of hours was compelling, the bit I saved until the next day – I just had to ignore the instructions for the sake of thorough reporting – did indeed fall apart. No worries, though. There’s no reason not to finish the bottle in one session.

$18. 12% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections.

Relevant reading:


Anonymous said...

Where did you get your bottle?

David McDuff said...

Thanks for reading, Tom. The last time I was in New York, I picked up a couple of bottles at Chambers Street Wines. It looks like the 2005 is done with there but the 2006, based on the other '06 Beaujolais I've tasted thus far, has every chance of being just as good.

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