Back in the 1980s in Dallas the French-American Chamber of Commerce organized the ultimate celebration of the Nouveau Beaujolais every November. Thousands of people filled the lower level of the World Trade Center to drink seemingly endless amounts of the Beaujolais Nouveau and snack on bread and cheese. Many of us realized after a few years and a few more wines that Beaujolais Nouveau is the kind of wine that gives Beaujolais a bad name and there is a lot more to French cuisine than baguettes and brie, good as they were.
Times have changed and the Annual Beaujolais Nouveau Festival has changed with them. It has now morphed into the Beaujolais and Beyond Wine Festival featuring wines from all over France and North America as well, including wines from Texas. Furthermore, it is one of the first big events to take place at the new Omni Dallas Hotel attached to the Dallas Convention Center. The hotel is so new that it has an artist’s impression instead of a picture on its web site. Also expect gourmet food from French and other local producers including Bonnie Ruth’s Cafe, Cadot Restaurant, Eddie Deen, Empire Baking Company, Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, Hotel St. Germain, la Madeleine, Lavendou Bistro Provençal, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Mimi’s Cafe, Mozzarella Company, Parigi, Sambuca Uptown, Scardello Artisan Cheese, Studio Mykonos, Texas Spice, Delice Chocolatier Selection, and more.
To kick off the Festival the Association held a Champagne Reception and Wine Tasting at The Milestone Culinary Arts Center this week. The wines were a selection from the much larger range that will be available at the festival and were provided by ‘Sommelier’ sponsor Goody Goody Wines and Spirits. Senior Wine Consultants Chris Shipp and Ralph Graves took the attendees through a comparative tasting of the wines accompanied by food prepared by the chefs at Milestone. There are several wines I would recommend from this sampling.
The 2009 Les Maîtres, Saint Tropez, Vigneron de Saint Tropez ($8.99) a gloriously well-balanced rosé that will change your mind about rosé style wines if you are unlucky enough, like me, to have been raised on hemophiliac reds masquerading as rosés. This wine is actually an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault. I have never heard of this producer, and it appears to be a cooperative that does not even have a web site. However, they are for real. The price is a steal so run, don’t walk, to Goody Goody to pick this one up. Given its origins it is best served topless.
The 2009 Mommessin, Domaine de Lathevalle, Morgon. ($14.99). An iconoclastic Beaujolais made from the 100% unblended Gamay required of reds in this region. This is a cru Beaujolais, as collectors call them. It is not some simple little fruit bomb shipped over on the red eye as soon as the fermentation is complete. This wine is complex, ageworthy and even Pinot Noir like with flowery notes in the bouquet.
The 2007 Perrin & Fils, Côte du Rhône Villages ($14.99) is a representative Rhône wines from one of the best producers. 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah this is a silky mouthful that showcases the pepperiness of the increasingly respected Grenache grape. Good with lamb and game.
The 2009 Château Siaurac, Lalande-de-Pomerol ($19.99). A baby Pomerol from the adjoining, less exalted area. The Lalande’s lack of A-listing is our gain as the price makes this a relative bargain. It is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. That makes for a soft texture, overtones of chocolate and mint in the mouth and a harmonious finish.
These are just the top four out of eight wines. The festival features dozens. Oh, and an artisanal beer tasting!
The Beaujolais and Beyond Wine Festival is on Friday November 18th from 7pm – 9:30pm and tickets are $60 (discounts for FACC members and parties of four or more) and can be ordered here or from (972) 241-0111