Beaujolais. So Much More Than Noveau!

The Thursday prior to Thanksgiving ushers in the annual spectacle of Beaujolais Nouveau, the annual release made from grapes harvested just a couple of months ago. Typically, these bottlings are like so many media-driven events these days: underwhelming in quality and overblown in hype. However, what only a few consumers know is that Beaujolais comes in many forms, not just the young, mass produced plonk that typifies nouveau.

There are a number of variations, all of which are made from the gamay grape, from different areas of the broad Beaujolais AOC, that merit your attention. For starters, these wines can achieve extraordinary heights of sophistication and pleasure delivery. What's even better is their affordability. Many of these wines can be found for well under $20. Having a chance to taste through these four bottles from George Duboeuf was a treat as they are so, so different from one another and most other wines. (These wines were received as press samples.)

2016 George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau $12
Oh, the sweet aromatics a fresh crushed violets and sun-baked herbs conjure images of a casual lunch enjoyed al fresco somewhere in a sleepy European hamlet. There is a particular appeal in the direct simplicity of this wine. These same characteristics carry through to the palate where the finish includes a bit of hard-edged finish.  All the same, it's light years ahead of the last nouveau I tasted and a lot cheaper than a flight to have lunch in that hamlet.

2015 George Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages $13
Bright, fresh, and with a nice smack of acidity, this wine sits squarely between the nouveau and the Fleurie (though closer to the nouveau in terms of quality and profile). A simple weeknight table wine that should prove versatile with everything from pizza to light fish.

2015 George Duboeuf Fleurie $20
Brilliantly expressive. Very pretty, red violet floral notes framed by firm, but lithe acidity. Such an attractive wine. Has all the components to suggest some age potential, but who's got the patience when it tastes so fantastic now? This wine helps explain why sommeliers are so smitten with Beaujolais. God damn good.

2015 George Duboeuf Morgon $22
A deep, deep inky purple color coats the inside of the decanter from which spills brooding aromas of dark fruit and baking yeast. After hours of air the nose turns focused, zeroed in on the tight fruit core. On the palate (even after five hours decanted!) its poise remains slightly clenched hinting at longevity- and a need for patience. Regardless, it is a pretty, well-crafted wine that has clean lines and features a seldom-seen side of Beaujolais.