Our wine of the Week

(by peter & susie)

The 2009 vintage in Beaujolais is currently being praised to the rafters.

One suspects this might have something to do with the general sense of shock among wine lovers at the unprecedented prices associated with the similarly lauded 2009 Bordeaux wines.

Just as Bordeaux has its en primeur campaign, Beaujolais used to have a canny marketing machine designed to shift lots of wines at an early stage in their existence. It was called Noveau and, for a while, proved to be a brilliant initiative, attracting great interest and thus useful revenue for growers.

But, as with most populist trends in the wine world, it proved cyclical and the reputation of the entire region suffered as a result of its fall from grace (in the same way that, say, mass-produced Liebfraumilch has done for German wines over the last 20 years).

There’s no doubting that the quality of Beaujolais can be very variable, and some of the cheaper examples are sour, lean and not dissimilar to a high-quality brand of paint stripper. But this is to be expected of a region that is as extensive and productive (it produces almost as much wine as the rest of Burgundy put together) as Beaujolais is.

Yet it’s also true to say that, in recent years, quality among the best estates has never been better. These are wines that can be challenging when young but show complexity and grace and age wonderfully well, at their apogee becoming reminiscent of mature Pinot Noir from altogether grander appellations to the north.

The 2009 vintage appears to be one that has produced some outstanding wines. Although Susie and I haven’t tasted as widely as we would have liked – something to do with a Master of Wine dissertation, moving house and a new baby – what we have tasted has impressed us.

An excellent example is the Louis Jadot Combe aux Jacques Beaujolais-Villages 2009 (13%, RRP £9.09, Waitrose, Tesco, Budgens, Booths + independents).

Its shows attractive black cherry and blackberry aromas, with floral hints – a serious but fragrant nose. On the palate, it is crunchy and elegantly textured, quite full-flavoured for its level and with a pleasantly spicy note. Altogether, a deliciously fresh red, ideal for summer drinking both on its own and with a whole range of dishes.

The latter point was brought home when we paired the wine with wild boar salami. (In the interests of full disclosure, we should point out that both were delivered to us by the enterprising souls at R&R Teamwork – to whom thanks.) It’s not a match we would have automatically put together, but it worked a treat: the peppery savouriness of the meat beautifully lanced and lifted by the freshness and light tannin of the Beaujolais.

On the back of extensive recent tastings, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the versatility of good Beaujolais when it comes to food matching. (Susie recommended an excellent Beaujolais to go with Michel Roux senior’s veal in buccaneer sauce on a recent installment of Saturday Kitchen – the recipe for which you can find here).

So we’ll be looking to do more experiments in this vein soon – and, as ever, will report our findings here first.

In the meantime, for those keen on sourcing some top-rate wild boar with red wine salami, check out the Real Boar Company’s website.