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Summertime chillout with a lighter red

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Market resurgence: the wines of Beaujolais

Summertime is, you may believe, a time for chilled white and rosé wines, but what do you do if you would prefer a red?

Firstly, you avoid cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec and focus more on lighter reds such as pinot noir, gamay and even sangiovese. To my mind, the more tannic wines like cabernet can become harsh, hard and lacking in fruit if served at 60F or below, although I find many folks in Europe who do prefer the lower end.

I submit that the beaujolais wines derived from the Gamay grape are worthy of summer enjoyment, but they have historically had a bit of a rough ride. In 1395 Philippe the Bold outlawed it and accused it of “very great and horrible harshness” but the truth of it was probably that he wanted to protect his pinot noir.

Today an article arrived in my e-mail from “Snooth” and to quote it: “The once heavily marketed, but often disappointing beaujolais nouveau was picked in September, released in November and had the winemaker’s bank accounts bulging by Christmas.”

We stopped importing it many years ago. It was fun but not serious and in the days when it was flown in, the air freight cost more than the wine! It did not do much for the overall, rather lovely traditional wines from this area in the very south of the Burgundy region.

Warning, short technical talk; the wines of Beaujolais (and other very fruity ones) are often made by carbonic maceration which is a process where carbon dioxide covers all of the grapes in a sealed container. The juice ferments inside the unbroken fruit and it creates chemical reactions that accent fruitiness. Louis Pasteur studied the different flavour profiles caused by rich oxygen or a rich carbon dioxide environment.

Plain beaujolais is the first level, but we start at the next one up and offer Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages 2014 at $18.70 for bottles and $11.15 for the half.

The designation “Villages” tells us that the grapes come from 38 villages that are considered of higher quality. Drouhin carefully blends from villages they chose to best represent charm and a brilliant raspberry colour. The nose is refined and intense with notes of violets and red fruits. The freshness and silky feeling remains on the palate. Feel safe to serve this at 55F.

The highest offerings come from the 10 crus of Beaujolais and I would like to offer you Joseph Drouhin Fleurie 2015 as it is considered the most delicate of them all. Aromas of violets, lilac and gooseberry leave a beautiful impression of pure, silky fruit and because we have now stepped up the complexity I would suggest 57F as being optimum. I would say that if your wine is just sitting there at about 75F room temperature a stay in the fridge for about an hour-and-a-half would suffice. $24.30.

Good pinot noir usually brings words like soft and velvety to mind although tomato, plum, earth, leather, mushroom, black cherry and smoke, even aged meat and barnyard are often detected. Most can be ideally served at about 55F. When chatting with groups about pinot noir I often show my tennis ball pinot noir map of the world. The equator is shown as a thick, black line on the ball. Then, at about 45 degrees north and south of the “equator”. I mark two lines circling our planet. I explain that these run through Burgundy in France, Willamette Valley in Oregon and Central Otago in New Zealand. Pinot noir thrives in these cool, somewhat unfriendly climate bands.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015 highlights the cool nature of the season with densely perfumed, wild black raspberry and black cherry along with a hint of complex dried herb. The wine has a supple dark cherry entry with focused flow through the mid palate. Lovely ripe textural tannins rise gracefully out of the mid-palate to finish the wine. These tannins are balanced by the wine’s acidity and berry fruit. Try at 55F. $24.55.

I am often told by the people of Tuscany that they enjoy their wines with seafood and this is a sign that the tannin structure of Sangiovese grapes allows them to be served slightly chilled. San Felice Chianti Classico 2014 offers, according to their winemaker, complex, long-lingering aromas, with nuances of dark cherry, raspberry and sweet violets. Appealingly dry and medium-bodied, it is smooth, rounded, and well balanced. Overall, its judicious structure, elegant fragrances, and savoury palate make this a delectable experience. I would serve it between 55F and 60F. $19.50.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm.