I have been writing this blog for nearly five (!) years now and I have been fortunate to be included in several incredible tastings and events. Few, however, have been as memorable as the tasting I attended in New York a couple of months ago with the “Roi de Beaujolais,” Georges Dubœuf.
More than any person alive (or dead, for that matter), Georges Dubœuf has championed the wines of Beaujolais for nearly seven decades. With the possible exception of Robert Mondavi and the Napa Valley, no single individual is more closely associated with a region and its wines than George Dubœuf and Beaujolais.
Thus, when I was offered the chance to not only taste his wines from the incredible 2015 vintage, but also meet the man behind the flowered labels, I immediately cleared my schedule (to be honest, I did not have a ton on my schedule that day, but I lean toward a flair for the dramatic).
If that were not enough, it turns out that M. Dubœuf also has a love affair with the bicycle: as a young man he once rode his bike from the Mâconnais region of France down to Marseille–a distance of 500 kilometers (300 miles), over poor mountainous roads, on a bike loaded down with provisions for the trip and possessing only one speed. The love of the vélo continued when he started selling wine as he would strap several bottles of the family’s Chardonnay to his bike and take them to the best restaurants in the area (which included now legendary chefs like Paul Bocuse and Paul Blanc).
It was Paul Blanc of le Chapon Fin in Thoissey who inadvertently led young Georges to Beaujolais, as he was so impressed with the Dubœuf Pouilly Fuissé that he encouraged Georges to also find a red to sell to his restaurant. (Interestingly, M. Dubœuf would eventually move, in 1960, to the village of Romanèche-Thorins, just 7km from the restaurant and he has lived there ever since). Georges obliged by heading a bit south, eventually forming a wine making syndicate of over 40 growers, “L’Écrin Mâconnais-Beaujolais.”
When the syndicate dissolved in 1964, M. Dubœuf forged out on his own, quickly becoming the largest négociant in Beaujolais (he would buy grapes and wines from other producers to sell under his own label). Today, Les Vins Georges Dubœuf works with over 400 growers across Beaujolais, including all 10 of Beaujolais’ Crus (the top-level towns).
The tasting, at the Crosby Hotel in Soho, featured the 2015 vintage of Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais wines, a year that M. Dubœuf has compared to the legendary 1947 vintage. In many ways, the year was unusual, leading to a harvest that started a full month earlier than average in 2015, and those who waited too long to harvest ended up with grapes that were far too ripe. The vintage overall was marked by wines with deep colors and aromas that you don’t usually see in Gamay.
Over the course of the next two hours, we tasted 16 wines, many of which are scheduled to be released by the end of this month. All of the wines are imported by Quintessential Wines.
2015 Domaine des Pontheux Chiroubles: Retail $19. Great red and black fruit. Highest elevation appellation in Beaujolais. Good fruit and balance. This is a baby. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Château de Nervers Brouilly: Retail $20. A slight step up in both color and complexity from the Chiroubles, this wine seems a bit more evolved and ready to drink as well. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Domaine de Combiaty Brouilly: Retail $20. Noticeably darker than the Nervers with lovely black fruit. More tannin as well. Sumptuous and rich. Yummy. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 Domaine du Riaz Côte-de-Brouilly: Retail $20. Shy floral nose. Meatier initially with a savory aspect (leather?) that is quite appealing. Long finish with some spice. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Domaine du Paradis Saint-Amour: Retail $22. Located in the smallest and most northern of the ten Crus in Beaujolais, near the Mâcon, Georges has known the winemakers for nearly 50 years. More intense and rounder black fruit. Really lovely. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2015 Domaine de Quatre Vents Fleurie: Retail $22. Fleurie is considered the queen of Beaujolais with the most delicate wines and it shows in this wine as it is floral and supple. A bit too delicate to battle the ample tannins. Nice, but young. With time this should improve. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
La Madone Fleurie: Retail $20. A bit bigger than the Quatre Vents, and a bit higher at 300m of elevation. Good balance vis-à-vis the tannins with bracing acidity. The fruit is also there, though, so with some time, this should round out nicely. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 Jean Ernest Descombes Morgon: Retail $22. Dubœuf has been making this wine for 50 years and now the daughter has taken over. More strawberry and cherry than blue or black. Fruity and tart. Ready to drink. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Domain Mont Chavy Morgon: Retail $20. This is darker still, almost black. Bigger all around with firm tannins. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Côte du Py Morgon: Retail $20. Among the best reputations in Morgon. This is going to be incredible, but it needs some time. Perhaps lots of time to settle down and the tannins to soften a bit. Now? Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Domaine de Javernieres Morgon: Retail $20. After the last bruiser, this comes off as a bit underwhelming. With more reflection, though this starts to shine and is lovely. Dark berry fruit with some white pepper. Best of the lot thus far. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2015 Château de Julienas: Retail ? (Not yet bottled). While certainly showing promise, this wine more than any of the others needs time as the fruit is a bit hidden by all the tartness. Given time, this should round out nicely. Very Good to Outstanding.
2015 Julienas Château des Capitans: Retail $22. One of the few wines tasted that is actually owned by Georges Dubœuf, loads of concentrated black fruit. Considerable depth and meaty tannins. Whoa. Holy cow is this good. Wow. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2015 Domaine du Pourpre Moulin-à-Vent: Retail $24. Moulin is one of the most age worthy and perhaps best known of the 10 Beaujolais Crus. Not as rich as the Capitans, but this is also fantastic with big red fruit and a chewy tannins. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-à-Vent: Retail $25. A bit tight initially. The oak comes through on the nose and palate a bit too much, but this is outstanding. Aging in oak in a big year like this was necessary to round out the fruit. This is young, but Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2015 Domaine de la Vigne Romaine Moulin-à-Vent: Retail $30. Really small production from vines that are just a few kilometers from Dubœuf home. Another whoa. And a holy cow. Big, rich, and full. Wine of the tasting. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.