Morgon Michaud

One of the most exciting varietals was between the crosshairs of our tasting group. We had selected Gamay, or by its full name, Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc; the varietal that makes its appearance in those wildly costumed bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau found in Super Markets around Thanksgiving but can easily produce wines of spectacular value when dressed up for the occasion.

The six of us had brought seven-fifties of Gamay, sacked in brown bags, so that we wouldn’t guess that every bottle under the roof was from one of the ten Cru villages in Beaujolais rather than California, or Switzerland (where they have a penchant for blending Gamay with Pinot Noir).

We paired the wines with a spread of charcuterie and opened our taste buds with a Bugey-Cerdon—a sparkling Gamay—that was light, fruity and quaffable.

We tasted each wine—all six—making notes and scribbling interesting observations as the bottles clocked around the table. The wines were unveiled and it was no surprise that they all hailed from Beaujolais. My favorite wine of the night hailed from Morgon, a bottle of 2010 Domaine Alain Michaud. Its aroma was alluring, pitching violets, succulent red cherries and minerals. It was delicious; on the palate it had soft and round tannins (medium), and a pleasing core of youthful fruit that finished long and clean.

While not the biggest of the night, that honor would go to a bottle of 2006 Morgon from the Côte de Py under the direction of Jean-Marc Burgaud (big green tannins and larger than life mouth feel). The Michaud red was vibrant and juicy with an underlying complexity that made it satisfying now, yet having enough primary fruit character to make a convincing argument for aging it another 3-5 years.

We had a lot of overlap, tasting two wines from Régnié, Morgon and Fleurie that was enough to make us change up our wine buying strategy for more diversity in lineups to come. Even though we neglected to taste other wines from Juliénas, Saint-Amour or even outside of Beaujolais, we were left with a superbly painted portrait of Gamay, but particularly of Cru Beaujolais. In the hands of great producers these wines are complex, pure, exciting and best of all, relatively inexpensive. I’m not a fashion advisor but ditching the getup of those extroverted Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau bottles would serve Gamay far better.