18 Dec 2010

wines of the week 4

Fleurie and Beaujolais Villages 2009, Villa Ponciago

There are two wines this week because I could not make up my mind which one to retain as they are both just delicious! I tasted both of them, for the second time, at a recent wine fair in Paris called Le Grand Tasting. They were just as impressive as when I first tasted them several months ago. Beaujolais is not a fashionable wine, but, if you want to read my opinion on fashion, take a look at my recent posting on the subject in this blog.

Villa Ponciago is in France, not in Italy, as its name (and this picture) might suggest. It is the name given to an estate in the village of Fleurie, which is in the Beaujolais region just north of Lyon, at the southern end of Burgundy. Whether or not Beaujolais is part of Burgundy is the subject of endless petty quarrels for which the French are famous. This estate, which had previously been called Château Poncié, was purchased in 2008 by the Henriot family who already own the eponymous champagne brand, plus two superb businesses with extensive vineyards in Burgundy: William Fèvre in Chablis, and Bouchard Père et Fils in Beaune. This move is part of a wider pattern which has seen, in recent years, several major Burgundy actors acquire businesses and vineyards in the Beaujolais region. This tends to confirm my thesis that this region is indeed a part of Burgundy, even if the grape variety, gamay, is different from the pinot noir that prevails to the north, although probably one of its biological cousins.

The estate contains some 50 hectares of vines with various orientations and at various altitudes, as this is a beautifully hilly region that, at times, bears a distinct ressemblance to parts of Italy, hence I imagine the italianate name given to the property and which apparently it used to bear before being called a "château".  

The two wines I tasted, both 100% gamay as are all red Beaujolais wines, are quite delicious in a simple, fruit-orientated way. They have that fine-tuned crispness that contains the flavours of black fruit, making you feel that you are receiving a flow of crunchy explosions of acidulated juice. The alcohol is light and yet the wines are perfectly satisfying. I felt I could drink them easily at any time for their refreshing qualities. They could be set at table with a wide range of good simple food, covering the range of fish to poultry and including a wide range of vegetables and white meats And they are eminently accessible in terms of prices; the Beaujolais Villages being around 6 euros and the Fleurie around 10. Wine does NOT have to be complicated, nor expensive, to be very good!

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