Once, if you wanted an inexpensive quality bottle of wine, chances are you bought a Beaujolais. In fact, that was about the only decent cheap red wine – imported or otherwise – on most store shelves two decades ago.
Beaujolais, the French wine region just south of Burgundy, has fallen on hard times since then, something you’ll read about it in the trade press every once in a while. Sales have declined significantly, mostly because Beaujolais drinkers are dying off. The 1990s were a long time ago in the wine business, and Beaujolais was a Baby Boomer wine. And quality, despite assertions from the region, is inconsistent. Some of it is so badly made that it’s difficult to believe it’s a 21st century product.
Fortunately, the producer Louis Tete has held up its end. I bought this wine, its basic Beaujolais ($10, purchased, available at Spec’s), mostly for nostalgia value, not expecting much. But it was Beaujolais the way it should be, with just enough grapey flavor (courtesy of the gamay grape) so that you could tell it was from Beaujolais, but also lots and lots of character. There was acid and freshness, rare for a Beaujolais these days, as well as an earthiness and even some dark fruit.
This is the quintessential porch red wine, perfect for hot summer days (just 12 1/2 percent alcohol), barbecues and Fourth of July picnics. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2013 Hall of Fame.