A small amount of Chardonnay is planted within the commune of Beaujolais which can be bottled either as Beaujolais Blanc or as Macon Blanc. Only 1 percent of the vast vineyard region of Beaujolais is planted to Chardonnay, all of it in the extreme northern part of Beaujolais in soils abutting St. Veran in the Macon. While rarely seen in the United States, well made Beaujolais Blanc, like its red counterpart is quintessentially delicious, fruit-driven and friendly, charming wine. Occasionally a top grower will make a white Beaujolais which transcends the qualities typically found in the wines from this appellation. On a Tuesday afternoon blind tasting at New York Vintners we encountered such a wine much to the delight and surprise of the 8 tasters.
Everything about the wines was appealing: The deep yet vibrant golden hue indicated a wine which has captured plenty of sunshine. The bouquet exuded honeyed melon, fig, and citrus with an appealing suggestion of crushed white pepper corns. On the palate the wine was rich and juicy with a dense texture and plenty of enlivening acidity. Although redolent of ripe fruit this was no mere fruit bomb. The grower had succeeded admirably in capturing the soil in which the vines had ripened. You can serve this wine with equal success to someone relatively new to wine and to a sophisticated palate. The producer of the sumptuous Chardonnay is a man with a legendary reputation in Beaujolais: Jean-Paul Brun. The smiling, balding, intelligent Brun has become a cult figure among sommeliers for the remarkable purity, integrity, depth and age worthiness of his Beaujolais wines. His wines are about as natural and unmanipulated as wine can be. He favors low yields, natural yeasts, no addition of sugar and the minimum amount of sulfur to ensure the stability of his wines. They sell for small bucks but deliver big dollar flavor and texture. The way his wines combine the charm of Beaujolais with the nobility of Burgundy never ceases to amaze. It is hard to believe that Brun’s Beaujolais Blanc sells for less than $20. Your mouth, like ours will say $35.
Bob Millman New York Vintners