The 2018 summer mission: To make 2018 the best wine summer for all oenophiles.
Should you accept this mission, start with quality Beaujolais, a can’t-miss selection in summer sippers. It’s best to stick with the top two quality levels: Village and Cru.
Village wines will have the term Beaujolais Village on the label, denoting that the grape is grown and the wine made in the villages specified as being among the best in the region.
Cru Beaujolais will have one of the 10 Cru commune names on the label, denoting the wines are from the absolute top vineyard areas. Your wine shop guru can help you with the distinctions if you are not familiar. There are three Cru you are most likely to encounter outside of France, which I will mention later. Red Beaujolais makes up 99 percent of the region’s production and is made exclusively from Gamay Noir grapes.
5 reasons these wines rock
No. 1 is that they are flexible for warm-weather quaffing because they complement the variety of foods that grace summer feasts. Fresh fruit, light salads, stout barbecue and multiple desserts all work well with these wines because they deliver bright beams of tart red fruits, excellent acidity, unique floral notes and a lick of rock minerality — sort of like that great dance partner that makes all his or her partners look better.
No. 2 is affordability because even top versions of Cru bottlings rarely fetch more than $30, many less than $20. Village Wines gems can be had for $10 to $15.
No. 3 is that this region has had a run of exceptional vintages of late. The years from 2014 to 2016 are all excellent, drinking well now and are widely available. By the way, Cru Beaujolais ages well so don’t be afraid to cellar some.
No. 4 is quality. These wine folks have been working with their terroir and grapes for at least 1,300 years. That along with the combination of improved technology and winemaking means the fruits of their labor have never been better. Morgon, Moulin-á-Vent and Fleurie Beaujolais Crus are widely available stateside and offer consistent quality. However, you should feel confident with any your wine guru recommends.
No. 5 is that these reds come alive when served chilled. Any time of the year, even the stoutest Cru Beaujolais becomes more vibrant in a lower temperature range, say 54 to 60 degrees F. This applies even more when the mercury rises.
If you haven’t branched out into these top-level Beaujolais, summer is the right time do so. Cheers.