From the Cellar - Beaujolais


Weird title right?

Who pulls Beaujolais from the cellar you might ask. Well I do but I can't say I'm a leader in that field. In fact several of my friends have rather varied assortments of Beaujolais resting in the deep recesses of their cellars and through their generosity I have come to know the wonder of aged Gamay.
Wines are strange beasts, they start life as one thing and frequently morph into something completely different with age. Gamay in particular seems to really transform itself in the cellar, which is a bit of a surprise as Beaujolais, what most of us think of when we think of Gamay, starts out life as an easy, quaffable, cherry berry delight with little to no promise of improvement.

However, after several years in the cellar wonderful things happen. The fruit both fades and morphs into something gamy and wild with more than a passing resemblance to Burgundy of a certain age.  One of the consequences of this transformation is that the fruit become less flamboyant and more transparent allowing the minerality of the terroir to express itself.

It is somewhat bizarre to think of but Beaujolais with age perhaps expresses its terroir as well as any other wine, maybe even better than any other wine. For me these aged examples of Beaujolais combine the fruit quality of Burgundy with a terroir that recalls some of the finest plots of the Northern Rhone,those granite rich bands through St. Joseph and Cornas in particular.Not a stretch when you consider that Beaujolais lies right in the midst of these two famous wine producing regions.

While I have had Beaujolais older than the wines tasted for this post I think these wine represent the peak along the ageing curve for most of the wines, which is to say about 6-12 years after the vintage. All four wines showed very well with several characteristics in common; a certain Asian spice note, a seamless, delicate texture, transparent fruit and wonderful and refreshing mineral tones.  If this sounds like something that would appeal to your palate do yourself a favors and seek out a few examples of aged Beaujolais to try or just lay down a few of the affordable beauties for your future enjoyment!

Here are 4 examples from my cellar.

1996 Domaine j Chamonard Morgon Le Clos de Lys

Pale dried rose petal color, earthy looking

Funky, earthy, Burgundian nose, intensely smoky with notes of medicinal floral tones, tea and baked wild cherry and medicinal mineral tones, intense stuff! Some dried Asian spiced beef notes dried orange peel

Soft and almost lush with plenty of acid and only a whisper of tannin supporting the dried strawberry fruit. And mandarin orange notes There are nice background notes of mossy earth, tea and Asian spice chocolate on the midpalate with a fresh brisk floral and red berry finish of moderate length.  A very savory and yet curiously fruity wine with solid length. 89pts

2002 Earl Louis & Claude Desvignes Morgon Cote du Py

dark ruby with a beige cast

A tight noise with a very fine tobacco tone, mineral notes, and a hint of violet all backed up with tight wild berry fruit, opens rather nicely revealing tea, mint,  moss and wild berry tone with some ferrous minerality.

Soft plush and full of gentle fading fruit edged in brown spice and roast fruit tone, some dried apricot up front and still has a nice touch of tannin adding depth, nice and fairly full with earth tone and a brilliantly mineral backend that leads to an almost salty vivid finish the acid here really pops with some air, lifting the fruit like a one pole circus tent and accentuating the earthy front end but this is still a mineral bomb on the back half and into the finish then there is a lovely return of spicy, briary fruit. Killer right now. 92 pts

2003 Duboeuf La Trinquee Julienas

Cedary and woodsy with a touch of zinfandel like briar here, there is a lovely wild cherry jam tone but no too cooked and subtle note of graham cracker and waxy lipstick with a white pepper spice edge.

Soft and sweetly fruity up front with nicely integrated acidity and some very attractive wild red cherry fruit and hints of baking spice and herb. Really mirrors the aromatics. Has some slightly aggressive tannins still that lead to a bit of a woodsy finish that is cut short by an earthy, beet rooty tone which gains traction on the mid-palate after about 30 mins. A touch clumsy at times but still perfectly intact and enjoyable. 85pts

2003 Coudert Clos de la Roilette

Quite pale and bricky with quite a bit of sediment

Very herbal, and balsamic on the nose with sweet fruity wax lips candy tones and huge notes of macerated flowers, game, earth, violette pastille and stone absolutely captivating aromatics that are sweetly fruited yet savory and earthy and complex.

The entry is almost slick in it's seamlessness then the structural elements help add some texture with the bright acids adding cut and the fine tannins grab to the earthy, wild cherry, dark toned fruit. There is a lurking spiciness here, almost medicinal and lovely notes of flowers, herbs and exotic fruits like persimmon then this turns a bit lean and austere on the backend but with impressive length and even a bit of drying tannin and mucky cologne on the finale. Really long. Perhaps still a bit young too! 92pts

So the short of all this is that these wines are wonderful with some age on them and they absolutley defy our expectations. Time to change expectations folks so buy and cellar some Cru Beaujolais. You will be justly rewarded!

Gregory Dal Piaz

Community Manager


Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,944

    Thanks for this post, Greg. Very informative and useful and desire-instigating and….

    Am curious, though, what's meant by your term ‘Asian spice'? Are we talking soy sauce, wasabi, anise? Or cinammon, cloves, black pepper, sanshou? Hopefully not nampla. I'm mentally revisiting all sorts of restaurants and markets around the continent and it's not coming into focus…

    Jun 24, 2009 at 10:38 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    The Asian spice tones I get are rather like Chinese 5 spice though light on the anise and with a background suggestion of soy. I do get nampla in some other aged wines. Cabernet franc and similar varieties seem to be likely candidates for a bit of fishiness!

    Jun 25, 2009 at 5:13 AM

  • Snooth User: jaybird75
    100123 104

    I have long been a fan and cellarer of the Crus, in good years and just when I can get them when released. I call them ‘Baby Burgundies' after my first love. Undeniably great values, and impresses your friends. Let's make everyone believers!

    Jun 30, 2009 at 1:09 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    I'm doin my part Jay!

    Gotta love em and when they're 12 years old and still kickin? Well then you gotta love em even more, baby Burg miracles!

    Jun 30, 2009 at 4:17 AM

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