Rather like those who will only drink white with fish and chicken and red with steak, there is a tendency to drink lighter wines in the summer and darker, stronger ones in the winter. You may think that's a load of nonsense and I can see what you mean, but I've recently been swayed towards the compartmentalising of wine drinking. On Tuesday I had an exam. I had really worked hard for the six months up to THE DAY and when the final whistle was blown I felt as if I'd been assaulted. It was a hot afternoon and we all went to a pub garden for a celebratory drink. I had a cranberry presse with ice during which I'm fairly sure I heard angels singing. Someone then opened a bottle of 88 Bollinger (we were a group of winos) and it came nowhere near the cranberry.
Last night we were all a bit sticky. It had been hot and then rained and their air was damp and oppressive. The Beaujolais was fabulous. They were exactly, perfectly, precisely right for that moment.
The main reason for this is the lack of tannin. Tannin is the stuff that makes your mouth feel dry, like when you drink very dark tea. Beaujolais is made from 100% Gamay grapes, which have thin skins, which is where grapes hold a lot of their tannin. The wines are also vinified in a way that doesn't over extract what tannins there are. Cabernet Sauvignon, by comparison, has thick skins and the wine is made in a way that brings out a lot of the tannin. Thick skins also mean the wine will have darker colour and will live for longer. Beaujolais is pale and should be drunk young.
The wines we tasted were all made from the same grapes and come from the same fairly small region, with pretty similar wine-making techniques. As such, they were pretty identical. They scored between 12 and 15 out of 20.
Our favourite was Domaine Brisson, Morgon "Les Charmes" 2000, which is £6.99 from the Co-op. It smelt exactly as it should - of raspberry and cherry and the taste was more complex than the others. Roger said "it holds up for longer". It was smooth with a good finish and the panel nodded and smacked their lips in appreciation.
Joint second were Chateau de Basty, which is £6.59 from Oddbins and Sainsbury's Classic Selection, which is £5.99. Alex thought the Basty smelt of strawberry jelly and I picked up rhubarb. I also smelt something like rain on hot tarmac. It had a very good taste with fresh, chewy fruit. Lorraine thought it tasted of blackcurrants and Sue went with cherryade.
The Classic Selection reminded Roger of Pinotage and Lorraine thought it was a much more interesting smell. It tasted of red fruits, but dry.
Fourth best was Tesco's Fines Beaujolais Villages, which is £5.33. The smell was spoilt by a whiff of sulphur, but it felt nice in the mouth and was easy to drink.
Fifth best was Radcliffe's Beaujolais, which is £4.99 from Thresher, Wine Rack, Victoria Wine and Bottoms Up. It smelt of pink bubble gum and crème soda. It tasted hollow. Someone said "it lies there and doesn't do anything" which summed it up perfectly.
The least favourite, which I was happy to drink after they'd all grabbed other bottles and run, was Morrisons Beaujolais, which is only £4.99. It had a more rustic smell, which reminded Lorraine of marmite. The taste was fresh, clean and dry, but not too dry. It was smooth and lively.
These were tasted blind and we marked them exactly in price order. It was interesting that there were 2 with corks, 2 with synthetic closures and 2 with screwcaps. The French seem to be coming round!
Domaine Brisson, Morgon "Les Charmes" 2000 - Co-op - £6.99
Chateau du Basty, Beaujolais Lantignie 2002 - Oddbins - £6.59
Sainsbury's Classic Selection, Beaujolais Villages 2002 - £5.99
Tesco's Finest Beaujolais Villages 2002 - £5.33
Radcliffe's Beaujolais 2002 - Thresher, Victoria Wine, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up - £4.99
Beaujolais Villages 2002 - Morrisons - £4.99
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