Vins du Beaujolais (L’Union des Vignerons du Beaujolais)
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Notes from John Gilman on the 2009 Vintage
There will be a lot of absolutely delicious Beaujolais to try in 2009, as it is indeed a very good, atypically ripe and opulent vintage for Beaujolais. As others here have mentioned, the Louis-Dressner and Kermit Lynch portfolios cover many of the very best estates (with an honorable mention for importer Weygandt-Metzler), and just choosing from their strip labels is a very good jumping off point. As a quick primer, the three best Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages producers that I regularly cross paths with are the aformentioned Jean-Paul Brun and his Domaine Terres Dorées, Pierre Chermette of Domaine du Vissoux and Domaine Dupeuble from the Kermit Lynch's portfolio. I also find the Beaujolais-Villages from Joseph Drouhin consistently excellent and very classic in style and like all of this firm's Beaujolais, a completely underrated source for very top drawer Crus and B-Villages.
Amongst the Cru Beaujolais, it is important to keep in mind(again as folks have mentioned already) that certain villages tend to produce much more structured wines, and this will be very evident in a powerful vintage like 2009. In general terms, the wines from Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon and Cote de Brouilly are going to demand a bit of bottle age to really start to drink well in 2009, and these may not be the best growers to focus on when tasting through the vintage to draw your own conclusions. But in these appellations, if you keep in mind that what you are tasting is likely going to need five years of bottle age to really blossom from these crus, you cannot go wrong with Kermit Lynch's "Gang of Five" producers- Thevenet, Lapierre, Foillard, Breton are four of the five- as well as Georges Descombes and Louis et Claude Desvignes from Louis-Dressner. I also like very much the Morgons made by Louis Jadot and Joseph Drouhin for the big houses, and Jean-Paul Brun also makes a very good example of Morgon.
In Moulin-a-Vent, Louis Jadot's Chateau des Jacques makes a very good range- though always structured when young- and Bernard Diochon is excellent year in and year out. Pierre Chermette also makes superb Moulin-a-Vent and the Drouhin version is consistently exceptional. In Cote de Brouilly, the two most exciting producers are Nicole Chanrion and Chateau Thivin (both represented by Kermit Lynch). The Chanrion is usually very accessible out of the blocks for this very stony terroir (it is an extinct volcano), while the Chateau Thivin bottlings demand time and are usually tight and structured when young. Better to try the delicious straight Brouilly from Chateau Thivin if you want to drink one of their wines out of the blocks, as that never demands patience and is lovely.
In the less structured Cru villages, wines I particularly like are the aformentioned Clos de la Roilette in Fleurie (they are the Chateau Yquem of the village- though their vines are right on the Moulin-a-Vent border and the wine used to be sold as Moulin-a-Vent before the AOC went into effect, so they are a bit more structured than most Fleuries), Cedric Chignard, Jean-Paul Brun and Pierre Chermette are all very, very good sources. Domaine Diochon in Moulin-a-Vent also makes a good Fleurie, as does Joseph Drouhin. In general these will be more floral, open and sappy bottles of Beaujolais out of the blocks and they will be delicious from the get-go.
In St. Amour, Domaine des Billards makes absolutely brilliant wines and is one of my favorite producers in all of Beaujolais. In Julienas, Michel Tete is the star producer, but I also like the Drouhin bottling from here very well indeed. There are many more outstanding bottlings to be found scattered thorughout the crus and I am sure that I am forgetting several worthy estates, but this at least will give you a good "to do" list to get started with the vintage. The only '09s I have tasted thus far are the Joseph Drouhin wines, which I tasted through in Beaune in March, and they are deep, sappy and beautifully soil-driven. If all the other top estates have made wines in this style, then this is indeed going to be a very special vintage for the region. But with the wines from Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent, you may do better trying a few bottles from either the 2006 or 2007 vintage if you can find them well-stored, as these are less structured vintages and both are beginning to really drink well from these villages.