Monday Night Done Right
Jean Michel Duprè Vignes De 1940 Beaujolais Villages 2014
Choosing a wine for a Monday night can be tricky, right? You want something delicious, but nothing too special because it’s just Monday night. And because you don’t want to drink the whole bottle this early in the week (or do you?) you want something that isn’t too expensive just in case half of it gets thrown down the drain.
Enter our hero, Beaujolais Villages.
Yes, my favourite Gamay-based drink proves ones again just how versatile it is. It’s the little wine that could – full of flavour, moreish, but cheap as (kettle) chips.
The secret to Beaujolais’s fresh and fruity drinkability lies in its much-reviled winemaking technique, carbonic maceration. Basically, they take whole bunches of grapes, shove them in a vat, and seal it tight. Without oxygen, the berries start to self-ferment from inside as the weight of the bunches press down to release beautiful boozy juice.
The resulting wines are super fruity and fresh, but light on tannin because they’re not given too much time on their skins. But, for some reason, they still have a lovely rich purple-ruby colour that looks so pretty and inviting.
This technique is most famous in Beaujolais Nouveau, where it’s allowed to progress to the extreme (often with the help of some added yeasts designed to evoke particular flavours). Those wines are often full of bubble gum and banana flavours, for immediate enjoyment and not much else.
But when done partially – as in the whole-cluster process (ring any bells, Pinot fans?) – it draws out Gamay’s fresh cherry brightness and subtle pepperiness that has made me – and so many others – fall in love. Probably because this method preserves the acidity and juiciness of Beaujolais wines and lets the Gamay grape show its best.
This particular Beaujolais Villages is done in a semi-carbonic style from old vines (their year of planting is that date on the bottle), so it’s got all that bright delicious fruit we love with a bit of smoky spiciness from more traditional winemaking and the minerality and terroir that can only come from deep roots with a sense of history. It’s tart, juicy, and totally gluggable. But it’s also satisfying, so I don’t feel the need to chug the entire bottle on a random Monday while I wait for the series finale of Girls to finish downloading. No matter how tempting that might be.
There’s not much left of this wine left in the LCBO, so if you see it grab it. There’s also a Morgon by the same maker on shelves now, so you might want to check that out too for a little Cru vs Villages showdown.
But maybe save that for a Thursday.
Nose: Cherry, orange peel, and pepper with a floral note.
Palate: First sip is cheek puckering! The acids are high in this one, but that just lends to its drinkability. The dark cherry and red fruit from the nose mingle with the spiciness in a lithe little dance that I really like. There’s almost a pomegranate juice thing happening, if you’d stirred that juice with a cinnamon stick and spritzed it with grapefruit zest. It’s really lovely and fresh, and with a bit of a chill it’s the perfect springtime sipper.