No one in the world of wine has more experience producing Beaujolais than Georges Duboeuf, the undisputed king of the region. So when he declares that 2003 is the greatest vintage for Beaujolais in his lifetime, (better than 1990, better than 1976, better than 1947) it truly means something. He christened it the Vintage of the Sun, the year being the hottest on record for France in modern times. It was a very early harvest, and yields were uncharacteristically low, with the resulting wines showing remarkable richness. But despite the low yields and the dollar's continued free-fall against the Euro, prices are quite reasonable given the quality of the wines. Here are the panel's top three picks in what was a very close tasting of exceptional wines:
2003 Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais, Vielles Vignes, $11.99
Dark fruit aromas with wild flowers, light herbs and a nice hint of caramel. Silky smooth in the mouth with rich blueberry fruit and cherry accents. This old vine Beaujolais is a very well integrated wine--the flavors are hard to pick apart--but with its impeccable balance and long, round finish, this is an eminently quaffable offering.
2003 Domaine Calot Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, $22
This wine amps things up a bit and is a clear standout in terms of complexity and depth of flavor. Very rich berry, cherry and plum aromas, backed by coffee and a bit of leather. Big, bold fruit flavors: black cherry and raspberry, with touches of orange and mocha. Another old vine offering, this one should age beautifully for years to come and is well worth the elevated price.
2003 Georges Dubouef Régnié, Domaine des Buyats, $9.99
A charming wine with elegant cherry, rose and hibiscus aromas coupled with a light touch of anise and chocolate. A fresh and fruity wine more typical of what one would expect from a Beaujolais but with greater flavor depth and a longer finish, showing good acid balance and light tannins. An absolute bargain.
This week's panel: Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Idaho Wine Merchant.