Damien Coquelet – who four years ago took over the Chiroubles vines of his step-father Georges Descombes and has since expanded his holdings – is evidently a very fast learner (or was done a disservice by me when I reviewed his 2007s positively but not ardently in issue 184). His 2009s represent sensational successes, even in the context of nature’s cooperation, not to mention terrific values. (Sadly, I have not tasted his 2008s.)"
Damien Coquelet Beaujolais Villages 2009
Gamay from Beaujolais, France
The Wine Advocate - "The Coquelet 2009 Beaujolais-Villages – assembled from lots grown in several villages – smells effusively like a peach and blueberry compote; is lushly, generously, exuberantly fruited and billowing with sweetly-floral, lily-like inner-mouth perfume; and lingers lip-smackingly. This is another of those 2009s about which I can only say I don’t think wine of its appellation can get any better. Plan on savoring it over the next couple of years.
Damien Coquelet Winery
Though Damien Coquelet is the youngest vigneron we work with (he bottled his first vintage-2007-at just 20 years old), his wines have already reached striking levels of maturity and complexity.
Damien is Georges Descombes' step-son, and has worked alongside his step-father since early childhood. Learning everything from Descombes-both in the vines and in their now shared cellar-has instilled the same values in Damien's work ethic: organic viticulture, hand harvesting, native yeasts, zero intervention in the cellar and little if any sulfuring at bottling.
Two major differences distinguish Coquelet's wines from Descombes'. Damien, who cannot yet afford his own vines, currently rents various parcels in Morgon and Chiroubles, all of which are in their third year conversion to organic viticulture (he plans on purchasing vines in the future). Furthermore, he bottles quite early (the 2010's were available in January), unlike Descombes who ages his wines a year before releasing them. View all Damien Coquelet Wines
Upon hearing Beaujolais, many think of the large celebration for wine that comes out the 3rd week of November, that year's vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau. But the region of Beaujolais, situated at the bottom of the Burgundy AC, is more than just the nouveau. Some Beaujolais wines can be kept (gasp!) for up to 10 years! Those are usually the Cru Beaujolais and are much lower in production than the drink-it-now.
Even though Beaujolais is technically part of Burgundy, its climate, soil, grape varieties and winemaking methods make it completely separate in character. The primary grape of Beaujolais is Gamay, a very thin-skinned, light bodied grape that does particularly well in Beaujolais. It also does particularly well with the method of winemaking in Beaujolais – Carbonic Maceration. Carbonic maceration is anaerobic fermentation – meaning the fermentation takes place INSIDE the berry. How does this happen? Whole grape clusters are carefully put into a tank, given carbon dioxide and sealed to prevent contact with oxygen. Then a chemical process occurs inside the grape, turning sugars in to ethanol, aka alcohol. The process allows the fermenting juice to extract the color of the skins and the fruitiness of the grape without the harsh tannins of the skins. Not all Beaujolais use this method, but almost every Beaujolais Nouveau does. The result is a very fruity wine with fresh berry favors and super-light tannins and body.
The ACs of Beaujolais
Over half of the production of Beaujolais is under the Beaujolais AC. The second level is Beaujolais-Village, and the final is Beaujolais Crus, of which there are ten. Beaujolais Villages AC is a bit better quality than the first level, and the ten Crus are even higher quality. Most Cru Beaujolais AC wines use regular fermentation rather than carbonic, and some even let their wines age a bit in oak. In fact, after a few years in oak and bottle, a good vintage of Beaujolais can be mistaken for a Burgundy! But this is the exception to the rule - the majority of Beaujolais should be drunk within the first 2 years. In a good vintage a few of the cru wines may hold up for more, but Beaujolais is known for being fruity, light and easy drinking for right now. Serve a bit cool and enjoy without thought.
The 10 Cru Beaujolais to look for: Morgon, St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Côte-du-Brouilly, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Regnié.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.
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