Think of French reds, and naturally, the first word that usually springs to mind is of course Bordeaux. Moments later, your thoughts will probably turn to Burgundy. At this point, you may begin musing to yourself about how these two classic regions so aptly summarise every red-wine-related dichotomy. Full-bodied versus delicate. The solid, noble Cabernet/Merlot pairing versus the highly-strung Pinot Noir. Beef stew or a nice bit of cheese? Diana Dors or Keira Knightley? Arnie or Jude Law?
Now that your thoughts are caught up in Bordeaux and Burgundy, you could be forgiven for overlooking the other ‘B’. (Sorry, Rhone fans; your day will come). Still racking your brains? Let me help you – Beaujolais. Yes, Beaujolais: the oft-forgotten, much maligned little brother of Burgundy, and in my opinion, the more natural opposite number to the likes of Bordeaux.
Let’s be honest. Wines with grippy tannins, heroic mid-palate fruit and wiry acidity are great when enjoyed with a hearty roast in a fire-lit room at Christmas. After ten years’ maturation in the cupboard under the stairs. But when your cockles are in need of cooling rather than warming, and you’re looking for the perfect red to accompany those summer salads, Beaujolais steps up to the mark like no other. Unlike the bombast of beefy Bordeaux, or stern Burgundy with his starched collar and often acerbic tongue, Beaujolais is an all together more easy going, spontaneous and fun-loving sort of chap. Supple raspberry fruit and mild-mannered tannin add up to an instantly approachable wine with great summer appeal.
However, I don’t mean to give the impression that Beaujolais is in any way shallow or unsophisticated. Far from it. There’s a surprising amount of variety and versatility to be found. Lightly chilled, a quality Beaujolais-Villages like our 2006 Domaine Des Nugues is the perfect partner to cold cuts, mild cheeses or even barbecued prawns. At the other end of the spectrum, the spicier Morgon 2007 Chateau de Pizay will complement anything from a warm duck salad to a rare roasted shoulder of lamb.
So, now that I’ve helped whet your appetite for Beaujolais, perhaps you’ll join me in crossing your fingers for some balmier weather to complete the picture!