September is just around the corner with fall just beyond, and that means cooler weather. Already there's a chill in the air—at least some mornings. And while we'll still have a few more days pushing into the 90s, it's time to start thinking transition. It's time for a shift from those crisp and refreshing whites to light and fruity reds. Nothing fills that need better than Beaujolais, that bright and juicy red from the southern end of Burgundy made from the Gamay Noir grape. The panel tasted a number of Beaujolais from the outstanding 2005 vintage. Here are the top picks:
2005 Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais-Villages, $13.50
A Villages wine is a step up from straight Beaujolais, coming from the hills in the northern part of the region. The Nugues offers dark berry aromas that mingle with rose petal and touches of mocha and caramel. Fresh and flavorful on the palate, this wine has bright berry and dark cherry fruit backed by soft chocolate and red licorice, showing good acid balance throughout and finishing crisp and clean with sweet cranberry that lingers nicely.
2005 Domaine Mont Chavy Morgon, $12.99
This wine from Georges Duboeuf, hailed as the King of Beaujolais, is from Morgon, one of the subregions or "Crus" considered distinctive enough to warrant its own appellation. It opens with sweet aromas that start with cherry, then shift to red berry with soft notes of fig, graham cracker and spice. It has a nice velvety mouth feel with cherry and blackberry fruit flavors that need time in the glass to come forward, and finishes with subtle but persistent acidity and razor-fine tannins. This wine is an outstanding value.
2005 Michel Rey Julienas, $12.99
Another wine from one of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais, this one Julienas. Deep cherry plays against light blueberry on the nose, along with hints of earth and almond. This is a nicely structured wine with silky cherry and creamy raspberry coming through in the mouth, boasting a firm backbone of crisp acidity that leads up to a smooth, delicate finish. It offers all the charming fruit flavors you expect from a fine Beaujolais.
This week's panel: Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Michael Molinengo, Idaho Wine Merchant; Kevin Settles, Bardenay