I’m delighted that Clare Harris of Beaujolais and Beyond recently got in touch, eager to send some samples my way. Clare and her father Roger Harris are the ultimate in Beaujolais specialists, and have a handsome list of wines from this appellation, and from the Beaujolais crus too of course, as well as other wines from Mâcon, including Viré-Clessé, Pouilly-Loche and the like, all good sources of potential value in the little world of Burgundy.
Clare and co. first sent samples over more than ten years ago, notes for which are now buried deep within Winedoctor, and surely no longer relevant. Nevertheless, this demonstrates nicely the faith Clare and Roger have in the region. They sent over three wines and, while I can say something about all three of them, the clear winner in terms of drinking pleasure was the Viré-Clessé from Domaine des Chazelles, which started off all oatmealy, slightly reductive and serious, before revealing a wealth of sweet, peachy fruit. Very nice!
Domaine des Brureaux Chénas Cuvée Prestige 2011: The domaine of Nathalie Fauvin – so the label says. A rather dark, matt hue in the glass. The nose feels rather slow to open up, and remains rather reticent. It doesn’t express a lot of fruit, although there is an attractive fruit skin character to what I perceive. Rather firmly poised on the palate, quite classic lines, a good frame to the fruit, which has a lightly bitter, fruit-skin character like the nose, with a rather medicinal, cherry-like flavour coming in through the middle. A reserved texture to it, rather stony, which I like, with plenty of acid lifting it along. Rather short and spiky finish. 14/20 (April 2013)
Vignoble Charmet Goyette d’Or Beaujolais Blanc 2010: A very pale wine with a lemon-gold tinge where it catches the light. The nose suggesting fruit with a bite, pear skins, peach skins and white pepper, all in a very restrained and lightly bitter-feeling fashion. The palate has a similarly restrained texture, stony and cool, with an appealing, tense substance and bright acid backbone. A touch of unusually tropical fruit here, including banana, but it is subtle. Yeast-related, perhaps? On the whole, though, a fairly quiet and introverted style with a bitter grip to the finish. 14/20 (April 2013)
Domaine des Chazelles Viré-Classé Vieilles Vignes 2010: Organic, certified by Ecocert. A straw-gold hue here. The nose speaks very clearly of cashew nuts and oatmealy oak at first, with faint peach and apricot tones, tightly bound together by a matchsticky streak of reduction which does not show so clearly here as it does on the palate, but it is certainly present. With time, though, the fruit dominates, the peachiness coming through clearly and yet elegantly. The palate has a good supple substance to it, feeling rather solid through the middle, with some grip and a little suggestion of a tannic backbone. Taut acidity and a lightly mineral streak help keep it feeling alive. A good wine, the finish tingling with energy at the finish, with nuances of citrus fruit freshness. 15.5/20 (April 2013)
For more on Clare and Roger Harries, and to see their full range of wines, visit the Beaujolais and Beyond website.