This past fall, I received many of the Georges Dubœuf wines that are imported into this country. I had visited Beaujolais over the summer and had the honor of tasting through many of the wines with Georges Dubœuf himself, an experience that I will cherish for as long as my memory remains intact.
At that tasting, Monsieur Dubœuf stated that 2018 was a very “solar” vintage and it produced a lot of fruit from a near-perfect vintage. From flowering to harvest, every stage of the process was both earlier than “normal” (he intimated that climate change has gradually moved up each stage by more than a month) and experienced perfect weather throughout. The challenge, according to M. Dubœuf, was to get all the fruit in before it got too ripe. In the end, though, he placed the vintage among the top five vintages of all time in Beaujolais.
Tasting through the wines at the time, I had no reason to disagree with the man that many call the “Pope of Beaujolais” and it was also clear that the wines were incredibly rich, powerful, and well-balanced.
M. Dubœuf intimated that “balance is what matters above all else, it’s what makes a great vintage.” He added that “winemaking plays a huge role; know-how and talent are critical to finding the balance in a wine. Wine needs a lot of attention, it is passionate yet you are always learning, always an apprentice.”
He also said that while the wines were tasting well that morning, they could use a bit more time, particularly given the power of the vintage. And I agreed. (What, you thought I wouldn’t agree with a man who is referred to as a “pope” and a “king”? I might be a lot of things, but hopefully “stupid” is not one of them.)
Thus, I was in no real hurry to taste through the wines when they landed on my doorstep on a late fall afternoon.
Then, shortly after the new year, I received the terrible news that Georges Dubœuf had died of a stroke at his home in Romanèche-Thorins at the age of 86. While I had only met the man a couple of times, it was certainly a heavy blow. I doubt I have met a kinder person in my time writing about wine (although his son, Franck, who has been operating the company for the past couple of years, and Franck’s wife Anne, come awfully close).
Eventually, though, I got around to the bittersweet chore of tasting through the wines. Based on my notes from that first tasting, it’s clear that M. Dubœuf was right: the added time in the bottle rendered already fantastic wines even better.
The first two wines are from the flower label line of wines from Les Vins Dubœuf, which represents only about 10% of the total production in the company’s portfolio (which I found surprising since they are virtually ubiquitous).
2018 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais-Villages, France: Retail $15. 100% Gamay. 2018 was a stellar vintage by practically any measure in Beaujolais and this Beaujolais-Villages falls right in line with the rest of the wines from its “birth” year. Red berry fruit along with that classic Beaujolais bubblegum on the nose with all that fruit and more on the palate. Good balance, acidity, and even some minerality are there as well. Quite good. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2018 Georges Dubœuf Fleurie, Beaujolais, France: Retail $15. 100% Gamay. Under screw, classic Dubœuf flower label. Deep violet with blackberry, red rose, a bit of earth, and that classic bubblegum on the nose. Fruity and tart on the palate with a bit of tannic drying on the finish. This is a beautiful Fleurie start to finish and few do it better than Georges Dubœuf. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
The vast majority of wine that falls under the auspices of “Les Vins Georges Dubœuf” are from over 70 individual Domaines and Châteaux through relationships that M. Dubœuf had cultivated over the decades he spent traveling the roads of the region as a négociant (roughly, one who purchases already-made wine and sells it under one’s own label).
[Over the next couple of weeks I will be exploring that term a little more in-depth and examine how Georges Dubœuf was far from a “typical” négociant.]
This first wine is a bit of a peculiarity in the Domaines et Châteaux line as it is actually owned by Les Vins Georges Dubœuf, having purchased the property a few years ago.
2018 Château des Capitans Juliénas, Beaujolais, France: Retail $22. 100% Gamay. As with virtually all of the 2018 Beaujolais wines that I have tried have shared several traits. First, they are incredibly powerful with both intense fruit and impressive depth. They also are showing to need some more time in the bottle. Sure, they are fruity, fun, and fantastic, but they have all shown better after some time open, even on day 2. That is certainly the case here. Rich red fruit, powerful acidity, plenty of depth, but all of that was muddled upon opening behind all of that fruit. Once it settles down a bit? Holy Cow and almost a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
Georges Dubœuf grew up in one of the communes of Pouilly-Fuissé and his family had been making Chardonnay in the region for over 400 years. As a result, Pouilly-Fuissé has always figured prominently in the portfolio.
2018 Le Clos Devoluet Durand Pouilly-Fuissé, France: Retail $40. 100% Chardonnay. Georges Dubœuf’s family hails from Pouilly-Fuissé and although I never heard him say it, that seems to be where his heart lay. And this winery is located in Chaintré, which is where Georges grew up. Is that why he selected this wine? Hard to say, but this is certainly a solid effort. Bosc pear & a bit of lemon. Yum. The palate is a bit round, but also tart, with mostly citrus fruit, and a lengthy finish. I have never been to Chaintré, but after Georges’ death this January and tasting this wine, I feel the need for a pilgrimage. Join me? Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.