Lockdown, Day 137. At least it seems like it. Time to break into the red wines—either to break the tedium or up the alcohol content to match the gravity of the situation. Today’s red is a Morgon from venerable producer Georges Duboeuf. Like many Burgundian negociants, Duboeuf makes Cru Beaujolais wines from a wide variety of plots, even though they remain best known for their Beaujolais Nouveau.
“Cru,” when it comes to Beaujolais, doesn’t refer to a classification, like Premier Cru or Grand Cru, but rather the actual AOC or area, known as a “cru.” In Beaujolais, there are 10, but the ones you hear of most often are Morgon, Fleurie, Brouilly, and Moulin au Vent.
And if you’ve relegated your thoughts of Beaujolais gamay to those made with carbonic maceration for Nouveau, it’s time to discover some of the real wines of Beaujolais—high quality, ageable beauties. Don’t get a Beaujolais producer started on the damage done to the entire region by the large corporations and years of Beaujolais Nouveau marketing campaigns.
Many producers have been barely hanging on, but for a variety of reasons, Cru Beaujolais are making a comeback. My most recent visit in 2019 showed us an area with renewed hope. Winemakers were feeling good about the future! Young winemakers are making a mark (like Jean-Marc Burgeaud) and high quality producers are re-building domains (like Chateau du Moulin au Vent). Established winemakers from elsewhere in Burgundy are expanding their offerings (like Lafarge-Vial) and those hearty original Cru Beaujolais domaines are finally getting the recognition they deserve (like Marcel LaPierre). Vines are nearly all trellised in the region now, and well cared for—not the bushy, overgrown vines that were traditional. Winemakers are proud of the terroir and the wines each cru is producing.
George Duboeuf Morgon Jean Ernest Descombes 2017
Duboeuf began working with well-known producer Domain Jean Ernest Descombes some time ago, ensuring we all get a taste of Descombes’ high quality, old vine plots in Morgon. This wine was a lighter, more traditional Burgundy style with nice clarity, good acidity, and great aromatics. Featuring lighter tannins than some Morgons I’ve had recently, this wine shows tart fruit, juicy plum, and light red flower notes. It’s an easy wine that would go well with food, but doesn’t need it, unlike many of its more modern counterparts. It would do fine with a few years of age, but I wouldn’t hold it for too long. It’s a perfect weeknight wine drinker and a good entry into Beaujolais if you’re just getting started.