When you hear the name Duboeuf you probably associate it with Thanksgiving, and the slightly frizzante, light, fruity red wine released on the third Thursday in November- called Beaujolais Nouveau. Georges Duboeuf is credited with single handedly creating the Nouveau wine craze through his strategic marketing. In 1982 Georges brought the Nouveau wine to the United States, that turned into a worldwide annual celebration and release party. However, this is the story of a family and their history of French winemaking, not just one wine. Over four centuries ago the Duboeuf family was making wine in the Macon region of southern Burgundy. Georges was very young learning the family business from his father and uncle, including their passion for wine, and their secrets of production. At the age of 18 he was delivering wine off the back of his bicycle to local restaurants from his family’s winery. When his father passed away, Georges took over the business, producing ad bottling his own wines. He later formed a syndicate with over 45 local growers, but due to family squabbling, the business venture fell apart. In 1964 Georges Duboeuf started his own business as a negotiant. Les Vins Duboeuf now produces more than 2.5 million cases of wine a year. Georges passed away in 2020 at the age of 86 from a stroke, but his two sons, Franck and Georges, and grandson Adrien continue to run the family business.
The Gamay grape varietal, the only red grown in Beaujolais, is believed to be a cousin of Pinot Noir- a cross between Pinot Noir and the ancient varietal Gouais, thought to have been brought to the region by the Romans. Gamay has more floral notes and a bit more acid and minerality than Pinot Noir. The Beaujolais Crus tend to produce more concentrated and worthy wines, than say, the Villages wines. How do you know which label to choose for which style you prefer? Let’s explore.
The Beaujolais Cru regions from north to south are
Moulin A Vent
Cote de Brouilly
The Beaujolais appellation is bordered by Burgundy to the north, the Saone River to the east, and Lyon to the south. Most of the wines are produced using a method of semi carbonic maceration. This method highlights the fruit flavors of the grape. The grapes are harvested, then whole clusters are placed in the vat or tank. The weight of the grapes themselves then lead to juice extraction. When the juice comes into contact with the native yeast on the skins (from the whole clusters) the juice starts to ferment causing carbon dioxide, CO2. The vat is then covered and the grapes pop, or explode due to lack of oxygen! After a few days of maceration the juice is separated (first press, or “free run juice”) and then the skins are pressed, and the juice is combined. This is the basic winemaking formula for all of Beaujolais. Remember, French labels show the region and not the grape variety, we offer a few of Duboeuf’s wines here at Ed’s.
Beaujolais Village AOP is a “Protected” appellation, the wines exhibit a mineral flavor with red fruits, strawberry and currants. Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais is deliciously fruity with an aromatic nose of red berries. Lovely and fresh.
Morgon is one of the ten Cru Beaujolais, and the wines here tend to be denser with dark cherry fruit flavors. Often an extended maceration period gives the wine more body.
Fleurie offers an intense crimson color and expresses a range of fruity and floral characteristics.
Moulin A Vent gives off a color from dark garnet to deep ruby red. The fruit and floral flavors are intense, dominated by violets, with dark cherries. The wine is tannic, yet subtly spicy, with a complex, velvety finish.
Cote de Brouilly is a lovely garnet color with delicious apricot and plum flavors. The soils are made up of dark blue green schist, giving the wines great finesse. Cote de Brouilly wines are earthy and tannic, yet elegant and soft.
Unrelated to the Beaujolais region but here in our store, Georges Duboeuf makes a beautiful Pouilly Fuisse from Burgundy, where Georges family began. They still have property there as well as decades long relationships and contracts with growers. The Duboeuf Pouilly is made from 100% Chardonnay sourced from four different vineyard sites. 10% of the wine is aged in new French oak for 8 months before bottling. Flavors of apple and lemon with a touch of stone, the 2019 (current) vintage received a 90 Point rating from Wine Spectator. France has had a rough couple of years with weather, hail storms took out much of the white grapes from Burgundy to Loire. Expect to see very little French white wine in the next couple of years and many price increases- truly due to weather and low production. We still have some, so let’s raise a glass to the wonderful wines of Georges Duboeuf!