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I alluded to a tasting in my Bruxië article, one that I would host at my trusty Westside domicile, focusing exclusively on the 2009 vintage of Cru Beaujolais that would hopefully inspire enough of the makeshift tasting group to attend en masse.To my chagrin, one person showed up, other than my roommate—a victim of the tasting happenstance—and my friend who had accompanied me to Orange County. Easy to say that this tasting was limited, only two bottles poured, however they did have a wow factor that enabled them to steal the night.

I am a huge fan of the underdog, finding the charm in Clippers basketball (as opposed to the Goliath—LA Lakers) and wines that have not garnered the same attention as other massive varietals and regions. Thus I decided it was time to peer deeper into the 2009 vintage of Cru Beaujolais, focusing on the ten appellations between St. Armour and the Côtes du Brouilly. Even though there was a blitz of press for this past vintage, it is still a greatly overshadowed region in comparison to the “collector” wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Beaujolais has never been too heavily sought after in the American market place, a myriad of great producers making a lighter bodied style of wine from the Gammay Noir à Jus Blanc grape represent a tremendous value but sit undisturbed on the shelves of wine shops everywhere. Often confused with the floral labels of Beaujolais Noveau, a lot of consumers think of these wines around Thanksgiving and then are content to let them recede once the season has past. The Cru Beaujolais can often be found in your bazaar for less than thirty dollars—that means the greatest appellations of Beaujolais and best pedigreed winemakers in the region are a lot more affordable and easier to gamble on than most of the overpriced California wines with the import costs included! Their food friendliness is enough to make them a sought out necessity.

In the North, Beaujolais is produced in soils of granite, schist and to a lesser extent, some limestone and in the southern terrain Gamay grows in richer clay based soils. Beaujolais can be found on the map in the greater Burgundy region and the soil composition is but one aspect that separates Beaujolais from Burgundy’s heralded grape Pinot Noir that dwells in the predominately limestone rich hills. Another difference is carbonic maceration where whole clusters of grapes undergo intracellular fermentation by breaking down inside an anaerobic environment (one without oxygen). The changes in the grape happen quickly, softening the harsher malic acid in the process, the grapes take on a sleek body and more lifted aromas.

Anxious to get started we were showcasing a Moulin-à-vent from Domaine Diochon (#297), another wonderful wine in the Kermit Lynch portfolio and Jean Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte Du Py (#296)—a wine that had flown under my radar but came highly recommended by the person who brought it. I was happy to see that the wines were almost equal in price, both hovering below the meniscus line of an Andrew Jackson, to see exactly what could be purchased for that money in an exciting vintage.

With an endless amount of buzz pouring out of France about the greatness of the 09 vintage (as a whole), I could easily foresee both wines disappointing, yet the beauty of Beaujolais is its affordability so it was refreshing to know that not too much would be wasted if my fears happened to pan out.

Fortunately for the four of us in attendance neither wine sucked! The Domaine Diochon’s bouquet of lavender, earthy soil and red fruits was excellent on the palate with a hearty structure (more body than I could remember in previous vintages), moderate acidity and a long finish of cherries, raspberries, anise, mushrooms and strawberries. When it came to the Jean Marc Burgaud I thought for sure this would be the clunker but no, the savory and earthy characteristics were up front while the red fruits were happy behind the scenes—present but not at the forefront. The Morgon showed a different composition of the flavor profile that was equally stunning. It has been well documented that these two wines could be aged but at this juncture they performed well, living up to the hype.

It was a shame that this tasting (hard to even call it that) was truncated; the wines were showing the power and finesse, more the potential of the Gamay grape. Though I was skeptical of all the praise, the wines proved equal to the task and did not disappoint our unreal expectations; I would have loved to inch closer to five hundred by drinking some more massively undervalued gems like these.

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