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One of ten: the Gamay cru by Louis Tête ("Les Charmes" 2004)

Louis Tête Morgon
From the Appellation America entry on Gamay:

Given a more standard red wine fermentation, Gamay can produce more serious wines. The best examples come from ten small ‘Cru’ villages in the Beaujolais hills, particularly those from the commune of Moulin-a-Vent. The wines made here often can age in the medium term, gaining mature Pinot Noir-like qualities.

The Louis Tête Morgon "Les Charmes" 2004 has a powerful red berry aroma that you notice as soon as you open the bottle. Then when you taste it, there's a hint of pepper that you might expect from the land where the Rhône reaches up to Burgundy. Since this wine was not aged at all, I wasn't looking for any Pinot Noir impressions. Instead I was looking for why Beaujolais has been praised as the food-friendliest of wines.

Viewing it in the glass this is clearly Beaujolais, lightly pigmented and almost vermillion in colour. It has strong complexity on the palate and while the finish is balanced, it has such a tart, bracing grip I could see why a blind taster might mistake this for a white wine. Close your eyes and the colour red is gone.

A WINE THAT CHARMS A MEAL, A WINE THAT HARMS A MEAL

Nevertheless this wine intrigued me. Dining on a highly-seasoned salmon filet with basil pasta and blanched broccoli, I imagined myself buying more of this wine. But then I tasted it again on the following evening with virtually the same meal, substituting trout instead of salmon and turnip instead of pasta (lightest of wines and heftiest of root vegetables does not make for a good complement so avoid turnip and Gamay combinations -- you probably don't need to try this to believe me). The trout was delicious but "Les Charmes" had faded into a citrusy and piquant shadow of what it was the previous evening.

Personally, I am not sold on the idea that this style of wine is the perfect food wine. Light-bodied but earthy Loire reds, often touting Cabernet Franc, seem to better fill that role. As for this Beaujolais, drink young and drink now, I guess. Charming ain't a long-term investment, cru du Beaujolais or not. (Speaking of "cru" designations, I didn't realize that even this Duboeuf was a cru.)

"Les Charmes" is among the first Old World reds now appearing on shelves in the 2005 vintage. While the 2004 is still available, if you are in Quebec you might notice them disappearing fast. Michel Phaneuf gave it one the best reviews for a 2004 Beaujolais.

St-Didier, Beaujeu, France. 13%.

2 comments:

caveman said...

Marcus,
Good Morgon, or any other righteous BJolais cru does stupendous things with a couple of years in teh cellar.. I drank a 2001 Fleurie from Métras the other day that was almost Pinot, and perhaps better than much of the $30 Pinot that is on the market. It is just a shame that the evil SAQ doesn't go out of it's way and get some of the good beaujolais that is out there on the IP reseau.

Bill

g58 said...

Lately my ageability tests go like this: I taste the wine once I've uncorked it and then taste it again the next day, after having rebottled it in a minibottle. It's a creaky approach to determine the affect of time on a bottle but since it also helps to prevent waste, I proudly endorse it. But as always I defer to someone who's witnessed the real deal. Five years old, you say?

I think you are right about the SAQ. There's only one Fleurie as old as your Métras and it's impossible to get (Where is St-Nicolas anyway?).

Michel Phaneuf's current "Guide d'évolution" indicates that there's no real interest in holding on to any of what the SAQ is supplying from Beaujolais these days.