Beaujolais gets a bad rap, and I’ve done my part to criticize it, too. Most of us only know Beaujolais from its nouveau release, which comes out every November and too often smells like over-ripe bananas.
But Beaujolais can produce well-made, inexpensive wine. (Quickly: Beaujolais is the region in France where the wine is from, which is south of Burgundy, and it’s made with the gamay grape.) The Villages is the most common kind of Beaujolais, and it’s a softer, fruity wine that can even be chilled. It’s dry, but don’t expect much in the way of tannins or any other manly, red wine characteristics. As such, it’s a fine red wine for summer, and especially around here.
What’s interesting about this Duboeuf (about $10, purchased) is that this is not the current vintage, but last year’s. However, thanks to the recession and the weak dollar, many retailers still have the 2008 in stock, which they have marked down to move out. I found it for $8.50 at Central Market, but it’s probably available elsewhere as well.
This is our great good fortune, because a year of bottle age has made the 2008 a much more interesting wine. It isn’t quite as grapey, and has developed a little more red wine character. It still isn’t cabernet sauvignon, but it’s easily one of the best Beaujolais I’ve had in years.