There are lots of good wine tastings in Dallas, but it is rare to have a true legend of the wine industry in town. That was the case on Thursday night when I was honored to be among the guests at a dinner at Village Marquee – Texas Grill and Bar in Highland Park for Georges DuBoeuf, the man who invented nouvelle Beaujolais and pretty much deserves the credit for putting the Beaujolais region on the modern wine map. We were there to taste his wines from the excellent 2011 vintage, which will appear in most Dallas liquor stores this fall.
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One must make a distinction between nouveau Beaujolais and non-nouveau Beaujolais. Both are 100% made from the Gamay grape, and both come from the northern French region of Beaujolais at the south end of the Burgundy region. However, there the similarity ends. Nouveau Beaujolais is fermented and then bottled for immediate consumption. Regular Beaujolais is aged before sale. DuBoeuf was in town to introduce his best Beaujolais wines, not the nouveau variety.
The best category of non-nouveau Beaujolais is called Cru Beaujolais. These wines come from ten designated villages and are made with the same care given to the finest Burgundies than Beaujolais Nouveau. The result is refined wines with multifaceted flavors and bouquets that reflect their village of production.
For example, Chiroubles Flowers Label ($13.99) was soft and voluptuous. The flavors were unmistakably Gamay, but the aggressive grapiness that characterizes nouveau was moderated by flavors of other red fruit, including strawberries. The Juliénas, Château des Capitans ($18.99) moderated the Gamay dimension even more, replacing it with raspberries and cherries. A little oak in the aging gave the wine a silky texture and a complex bouquet. This was an example of Beaujolais that can age. According to Duboeuf, it was a decade. These qualities made it my favorite of the night.
The diversity of the region was shown by the Moulin-à-Vent, Jean-Ernest Descombes ($15.99). It was full-bodied, closed and powerful. It’s a wine that will age for several years and also improve. This example was aged in oak and betrayed dark fruit like blueberry, blackberry, fruit and herbal flavors in the mouth. The finish was not especially long but will likely improve with age.
I was struck but the complexity of these cru wines, and how reasonable they are priced. The most expensive Beaujolais is about the same price as the least expensive Burgundy.
We also enjoyed two of Duboeuf’s white wines. A pre-prandial 2011 Macon-Villages, Domaine Les Chenevières ($13.99) was a light and citrusy Chardonnay and ideal in the Dallas summer heat. The 2011 Pouilly Fuissé Domaine Béranger ($25.99) was a legitimate Burgundy (from the village of DuBoeuf’s birth, no less). This 100% Chardonnay exhibited the Burgundian qualities of excellent acid, fruit muddled with minerally notes and a restrained use of oak. The bouquet included hazelnuts, almonds, citrus and flintiness. The flavors of Chardonnay fruit made way for a long finish.
All of the above was served over a meal prepared by Marquee execuchef Tre Wilcox and his staff to which only pictures can do justice.