Thanksgiving Wines, Part 1: Beaujolais

With all the focus last week on the arrival of the new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, I thought I’d take today’s post to remind everyone that, contrary to what all the technicolored posters and festive displays in the stores would have you believe, there’s a lot more to Beaujolais than simply the nouveau. In fact, I’d make the argument that Beaujolais, especially as we approach Thanksgiving, is one of the handiest secret wine weapons you can have in your arsenal as you plan what to drink with Thursday’s big meal.
Beaujolais--and most Gamay-based wines, for that matter, though there’s really nothing like Beaujolais--is incredibly versatile year-round, pairing as it does with everything from fish and seafood to meats and even difficult-to-match vegetarian fare. I recently tasted two excellent ones from the wildly successful 2009 vintage, both from Joseph Drouhin, and both beautifully expressive.
Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages 2009
Gorgeous, bright cherry notes with an edge of intriguing banana aromatics. On the palate, this is silky-smooth with nicely tart cherries, fraises de bois, and spice, all bolstered by bright acidity. This is that rare Beaujolais-Village that can age for 3+ years, but that’s typical of the stellar 2009 vintage in Beaujolais. Still, for all its potential for cellaring, why wait? Pop a cork now and enjoy.
Joseph Drouhin Brouilly 2009
Smoky dark cherries and sun-warmed clay come through on the palate: This is an altogether different expression of Gamay, and of the region itself, than the Beaujolais-Villages. It’s shows more Pinot Noir in its character, with excellent aromatic density: This is quite masculine, with dark-berry cream and marzipan rounding out the nose. On the palate, it’s a beautifully filigreed, well-delineated wine with bright acidity, brambly fruit, notes of leather and tobacco, spice, and structure to spare. It’ll go another 5+ years easily, and the evolution should be fascinating. Excellent Brouilly, and it does the vintage proud.