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Beaujolais and Beyond

by Tom Cannavan, 02/2013

map Beaujolais and Beyond is a new company specialising in the wines of Beaujolais in France, but also neighbouring regions in southern Burgundy, particularly the Mâconnais, home of well known white wines such as Saint-Véran and Pouilly-Fuissé. Although the company is new (trading online at beaujolaisand beyond.co.uk), the people behind it are the UK's most fanatical and experienced Beaujolais experts: for 40 years Roger Harris, now joined by his daughter Clare, have imported some of the best of artisan Beaujolais into the UK. The web site entertainingly tells the story of Roger's beginnings in the Beaujolais business when he hand-imported 10 cases of Juliénas in 1974.

It could (and should) be the perfect time for Roger, now in his 70s, and Clare to launch this new business as Beaujolais has had an unbroken run of great vintages since 2009. He and Clare recently sent me a small selection of wines to sample for myself, with a Beaujolais, two 'Cru' Beaujolais - from Saint-Amour and Juliénas - and a Mâcon white.

Beaujolais (and beyond)

Jean-François Garlon, Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes 2011
Truly old Gamay vines here - some over 80 years old. Youthful and vibrant colour, and quite a delicate nose, notes of raspberry and floral-edged cherry, a nice touch of charcoal in the background. All about fruit on the palate with abundant red berries, quite a creamy texture, and whilst not hugely complex, delightfully balanced between the fruit and dry, cranberry and orange acidity with enough tannin to ruffle the finish. 88/100. £9.55, Beaujolais and Beyond.

Château de Juliénas, Juliénas Cuvée Tradition 2010
From the ripe 2010 vintage, this has a fine crimson colour and shows immediate lift, cherry-ripeness and abundant fruit, all edged with a mineral and briar note that is very appealing. On the palate it is crunchy and vital, with a lean, bright savour that makes it mouth-watering and yet fairly substantial. Just the thing for some rillettes and a chunk of crusty bread. 89/100. £11.75, Beaujolais and Beyond.

Domaine des Duc, Saint-Amour Cuvée St Valentin 2011, France
This wine made my Wine of the Week recently (see my video review), as a clever choice for Valentine's day. Whilst it plays up the romantic connotation with its floral label, the stuff inside is actually pretty serious. The colour is a vivid, deep crimson, and the nose has the requisite cherry and sappy, gently woodland note with touches of briar and green peppercorn. On the palate there's a certain meatiness to this wine, the core of sweet cherry and summer pudding fruit buttressed by good acidity and some grippy tannin, which whilst easy to drink and quite full, gives it savoury structure too. 88/100. £12.80, Beaujolais and Beyond.

Cédric and Patrice Martin, Pouilly-Vinzelles 2011
Brothers Cédric and Patrice took over the family estate here in the Mâconnais from their father in 2012. This pale, youthful wine has discreet aromas, with crunchy, dry apple leading the way and just hints of both nuttiness and a fleeting, floral character. In the mouth it is savoury, with more of that apple core dry fruitiness, a bit of cool, chalky minerality and plenty of acidity. It is not particularly long, and the acidity is a little abrupt, but it is keen, racy stuff with a Chablis-like appeal. 88/100. £14.95, Beaujolais and Beyond.