I received the sad news on the morning of Sunday, January 5th: Georges Dubœuf had died the day before at the age of 86. Perhaps more than any figure in another region, Georges Dubœuf is intrinsically linked with Beaujolais which he almost single-handedly transformed from at best an afterthought to an internationally renowned wine region.
I would never claim to have “known” Monsieur Dubœuf, having met him on only a few occasions, but I certainly did feel a connection. Sure, I have admired his wines and always partake in the celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November, but the hook was set on a chilly day in New York a few years ago when we sat and talked about cycling.
The story of Georges Dubœouf simply can not be told without discussing his relationship with the bicycle. As a youth, Georges rode his bike everywhere, including a 1200 kilometer trek when he was only 14 years old. Later in life, he used his bike to crisscross Beaujolais to both deliver his own wine (which, at the time, was exclusively white from Pouilly-Fuissé) to restaurants as well as search for red wines to supply those same establishments.
On subsequent meeting with M. Dubœuf, we always managed to squeeze in a word or two about our shared cycling passion before turning to taste the latest releases from the Domaine.
I received the following wines last summer (with the exception of the Nouveau) and I had just started tasting them a few days before Monsieur Dubœuf’s death. So it is with more than a touch of melancholy that I present my thoughts on the wines.
2019 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, France: Retail $18. 100% Gamay. Le pape du Beaujolais (the pope of Beaujolais) passed away yesterday and as I tried to absorb the news, I saw this sitting among my samples and wondered both why I had not popped this bottle as of yet and what better wine to drink to celebrate the passing of an icon. Sure, it is not mind-blowing, but it is not intended as such. It is meant to be a simple wine to be consumed shortly after harvest to celebrate the end of the intense period of collecting the fruit. It’s also a wine that Georges championed, made famous, and “saved” the region. So as I raise a glass of this incredibly fruity, with bits of bubblegum and clove wine, I salute Monsieur Dubœuf, the likes of whom we shall never see again. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
I will be writing more about Georges Dubœuf’s unique relationship with growers and producers in Beaujolais, but here are a half-dozen of the wines from the 80 or so Châteaux and Domaines that produce wines in conjunction with Domaines Georges Dubœuef.
2017 Domaine Les Chenevières Mâcon-Villages, France: Retail $22. 100% Chardonnay. I have waxed poetically numerous times about Georges Dubœuf and most of the time it has been concerning the house’s Beaujolais (Gamay) wines. Georges had his start, however, at his family’s estate in Pouilly-Fuissé, renowned for its Chardonnay. A few kilometers to the east lies Mâcon, another bastion of mostly unoaked chardonnay. This bottle arrived on my doorstep here in Houston in late June, on a day that registered roughly 135°. In the shade. This particular bottle exhibited a cork that had been pushed up a good 25 mm. I was worried. A lot. But no need. Clear straw, plenty of yellow apple, peach, and hyacinth. The palate is lovely: tart, fruity, full of verve. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2017 Domaine Béranger Pouilly-Fuissé, France: Retail $50. 100% Chardonnay. Starting on Friday, I chose to delve into some of the wines that I have received from Georges Dubœuf. Of course, I had no way of knowing that Georges would pass away on Saturday. Sad coincidence. A rich nose of peach, apricot, and tropical fruit lead the way to a luscious, rich mouthfeel with plenty of fruit, verve, and hints of butter. This is pretty fantastic but simultaneously sad. Rest in peace, Monsieur Dubœuf. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Château des Capitans Juliénas, Beaujolais, France: Retail $20. 100% Gamay. I tried to be objective about this wine and I believe I am despite the fact that I visited the Domaine this past year. While I liked this wine when I tried it on my trip, this might be better here at home. Great berry fruit, a bit of mocha, and plenty of earth. Quite juicy on the palate with depth on the midpalate and a lengthy finish. Fantastic. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Domaine de Javernière Morgon, Beaujolais, France: Retail $24. 100% Gamay. Initially, this was a bit closed with not much to offer on either the nose or the palate, but after a bit open, it changed considerably. It is far from boisterous, far from extravagant, but it certainly has charm: subtle red fruit (cherry and blackberry), plenty of earth, and even some chalky tannins. This might improve with a bit of time. Very Good now. 87-89 Points.
2017 Domaine de Lafayette Brouilly, Beaujolais, France: Retail $20. 100% Gamay. This bottle arrived with a host of other Dubœuf wines on a June afternoon. In Houston, every afternoon in June is decidedly very hot. Not hot as in “uncomfortable” or even “unbearable” but closer to “Biblical.” When I opened that case of wine, I noticed immediately that several of the corks were protruding and some of the labels (like this one) were stained with wine. Not good. I alerted the importer, complete with photos, that these wines were likely cooked. She agreed and intimated that I could expect another shipment when it was cooler (which in Houston means October, if we’re lucky). Nonetheless, I held on to these bottles for no other reason than to explore what “cooked” wines taste like. A funny thing happened, though, this wine is fabulous: dark in the glass with purple and black fruit on the nose, plenty of luscious fruit on the palate, and a delightfully lingering finish. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2017 Clos des Quatre Vents Fleurie, Beaujolais, France: Retail $23. 100% Gamay. I visited the Domaine last year and it was as impressive a place as I saw on my trip to Beaujolais. As a result, I am pretty much an unabashed fan of the Clos des Quatre Vents and Georges Dubœuf wines in general. Great fruit, plenty of earth, and a lengthy finish. What more could one need? Excellent. 90-92 Points.