My favorite warm weather red wine is Beaujolais, and although it’s winter, the recent blue skies and sunny days found me tasting the delicious 2009 Potel-Aviron Cru Beaujolais wines.
Beaujolais is the southernmost part of the Burgundy region and its red wines are made from the gamay grape. Many Burgundy drinkers consider it a wallflower next to the chic and expensive wines made from pinot noir in the Cote d’Or area. But not me; I like Beaujolais’ style.
Potel-Aviron is the joint venture of Nicolas Potel and Stephane Aviron. In the early 1990s, they were classmates at the prestigious enology school in Beaune, France. Potel was raised at the acclaimed Domaine de la Pousse d’Or in the Cote d’Or village of Volnay. His father was the legendary winemaker Gerard Potel. Aviron also was raised in a in winemaking family, but in the less assuming Beaujolais district.
A few weeks ago, Aviron was in New York City presenting his 2009 and 2010 Beaujolais wines. The two vintages are very different: The 2009 has rich fruit flavors, depth and length with excellent aging potential. The 2010 is more traditional with its light body and vibrant tart fruit meant for today’s consumption.
The 2009 Potel-Aviron Beaujolais Villages is a superb introduction to the pair’s talents. Normally, this basic wine is made from grapes of many of the 39 villages in this appellation, and it is perfect for quaffing. Potel-Aviron sourced their grapes from one grower in the Quincie village whose vines are more than 50 years old. Restrained winemaking yields a delicious raspberry- and strawberry- flavored wine with a long finish. It’s more than your basic Beaujolais-Village, yet the fare is a minimal $12.
The highest quality wines are from the 10 villages termed Cru Beaujolais. At our luncheon at Manhattan’s outstanding Oceana restaurant, Aviron poured two Cru Beaujolais: 2009 Potel-Aviron Cote de Brouilly and 2009 Morgon Cote du Py.
In the mid-1970s, Cote de Brouilly was my house wine. It was simple, fresh and, at $1.99, fit my budget.
The grapes for the 2009 Potel-Aviron Cote de Brouilly come from 40-year-old vines grown in three parcels by a single owner. Straightforward winemaking delivers abundant cranberry-cherry aromas and flavors, and a finish that incorporates the mineral and stony soil of the vineyard. It’s more complex than the Cote de Brouilly of my days and the price is a modern $16.
In outstanding vintages like 2009, wines from Morgon carry a Beaujolais price but give you Cote d’Or complexity and age-ability. It’s a no-brainer to put some in your cellar.
The 2009 Potel-Aviron Morgon Cote du Puy is from Morgon’s most prestigious parcel. Aviron turned the grapes from 45-year-old vines into a very perfumed wine with rich, dense black fruit flavors. Substantial body, excellent balance of fruit and tannins, and a mineral finish herald this wine’s 10 to 15-year aging potential. And at about $20, it’s a third of Volnay’s price.
I love Beaujolais with fish. At Oceana, it was perfect with an appetizer of grilled octopus and a good mate to sautéed skate.
When summer arrives, pour a glass of the 2009 Potel-Aviron Beaujolais wines, served slightly chilled, with freshly caught bluefish, sea bass, or tuna. Who knows, Beaujolais might become your house wine, too.