Last Thursday, June 19th, there was a workshop and tasting at Bouley Test Kitchen that would help to further the education of those in the trade in regards to Crus Beaujolais and those wines made by Georges Duboeuf. The panel that was guiding us through the vertical tasting and workshop was Christy Canterbury Master of Wine, Franck Duboeuf, and his father, Georges Duboeuf. Christy mainly led the way, giving the tasting and workshop a solid structure and inspiring narrative. If you ever get a chance to see her in person, all I have to say is that she is the real deal, and I have learned a tremendous amount from her. Typically with family businesses, the son or daughter shows respect by allowing their parent to address all questions, and Franck certainly kept to that precedent during this workshop.
Even though many wine consumers in the world know the Duboeuf wines as the quality standard for Beaujolais (mainly being introduced to Beaujolais Nouveau), there are some in the trade that scoff at the idea of Nouveau and hence, that Duboeuf is all about marketing. I must admit, many years ago, I was one of those people, and realized through time that I was talking from a sort of “I’m too cool and knowledgeable” snobbery. Through my wine education journey of going through the various WSET levels and currently awaiting exam results for the Master of Wine (hope to have passed theory!), I have come to realize that I was coming from a place of immaturity and ignorance judging Nouveau and Beaujolais as a whole. There are all sorts of producers in this world, and if a producer is able to come up with a plan of action and style of wine that not only gives joy to many around the world, but also at the same time makes wine growing a viable profession for many in their region, then there is certainly something to be said for the producer who can achieve such success.
Well, enough of Nouveau talk – which is only 25% of what Duboeuf produces, this workshop/tasting was about the great Crus of Beaujolais. Before I go into a quick snapshot of my impressions of the wines, I have to note two special moments that I witness during this remarkable event surrounded by great minds.
The first special moment was the answer that Georges Duboeuf gave when asked about his relationships with his growers. I would have thought this would have been a very polished PR answer that had the main purpose to increase sales… but it was not at all. It was an answer by a man who had lived a long life, probably losing many close friends by this time. His translator seemed to have issues translating exactly what he was saying since he faded off into the past talking about certain moments that he shared with the growers of his generation. My apologies that I did not catch the specifics of the stories or specific names of the growers, since it was difficult to hear. But I will never forget at one point he turned around to face the audience, and said something that seemed so heartfelt, and the translator said, “He has a lot of great memories with those growers, they were great friends, and he misses those times.” And I really felt no more needed to be said, especially looking at the expression of his face.
The second special moment came when the extraordinary chef David Bouley talked about his experience with Beaujolais wines. My husband and myself took classes at the Bouley Test Kitchen many years ago (and we have eaten his incredible food over the years that has such interesting layers of textures and flavors), and my experience is that David is simply a genius, who is also a pure soul. He has a true love and enthusiasm for learning and sharing information.
If you have not had the pleasure of talking with David, I would try. And he is more than happy to give hours of his time talking about the latest things he has learned. He actually gave an incredible impromptu talk about the role of bacteria in wine and food that day. He talked about a recent experience that he, his wife and a couple of their friends had with a Chinese tea Master. They were holding these tiny little cups with their fingers, and hence, the Master pointed out that the same tea was transformed differently by the bacteria on their individual skin. I cannot even begin to understand how that would work, and perhaps it would take me 20 years to figure it out, or it is one of those things that I will never understand. But it is again the idea of having my preconceptions challenged, and expanding my mind beyond my own experiences.
Okay, before I get too far off the track, here are some quick impressions of some of the wines we tasted: (A side note, the 2013s were bottled just a few weeks before this tasting.)
Jean E. Descombes: Relationship goes back 50 years with Duboeuf.
-2013 Georges Duboeuf Morgon: Good structure with some grip (great with food), long maceration, almost 3 weeks. Bright brambly nose that opened up over time.
-2010 Georges Duboeuf Morgon: Lovely, lovely nose… great sense of earthy minerality and mouth-watering backbone of acidity.
-2009 Georges Duboeuf Morgon: Richer, riper and incredible structure that was firm but not unyielding.. one of those wines that is dangerous, you want to drink it now, but you know you should cellar it.
Chateau des Capitans: Single block of vines within a vineyard.
-2010 Georges Duboeuf Julienas: Great aromas of black pepper. Literally when everyone in the room first smelled it, I could hear people making “yummy” sounds.
-2009 Georges Duboeuf Julienas: Fleshy body that you could easily drink on its own or with food.
-2007 Georges Duboeuf Julienas: Soft texture, restrained nose, but generous, delicious flavors of kirsch on the palate.
Domaine des Rosiers: Average vines are 50 years old.
-2013 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent: Complex nose of thyme and dried flowers with fresh acidity, more linear in shape than the others.
Domaine des Rosiers Cuvee Prestige: All vines selected are 50 years or older. Only made in the best vintages.
-2009 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent: Spicy with more concentrated black cherry fruit.
-2005 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent: Stunning. Orange peel on the nose with hints of granite, and decadently full body.