Just because it’s November and a wine drinker’s thoughts are turning to Beaujolais, doesn’t mean you have to drink Nouveau. With that in mind, importer Frederick Wildman and Sons presents these alternatives — cru Beaujolais which are far more interesting than the typical Nouveau release, but which remain highly affordable.
Some preliminary notes from Wildman on the producer Stephane Aviron:
Stéphane Aviron has adopted an almost radical return to tradition in Beaujolais: sustainable viticulture, extremely old vines and classic Burgundian techniques–his ‘cru’ Beaujolais drink like fine Burgundy! Historically considered “poor man’s Burgundy,” a modern movement toward fruity, simple, quaffing wines boosted sales (i.e. Beaujolais Nouveau!), but eroded the region’s traditional quality. Stéphane Aviron has reversed that trend by focusing on the ‘crus’—best sites for unique wines, and finding old parcels of vines. Aviron wines are very expressive and age-worthy relying on traditional and new methods, including organic and biodynamic vineyard management. All Aviron wines are at least 40 years old and aptly labeled ‘Vieilles Vignes’.
Let’s dig in!
2015 Stephane Aviron Fleurie Vieilles-Vignes Domaine de la Madriere – Fully-firing cru Beaujolais, with loads of cherry cola, tea leaf, and blackberry on the back end. It may sound like a fruit bomb, but there’s enough acidity to temper any thoughts of overbearing sweetness. Not a bad little lick of chocolate on the end there, too. A- / $24
2015 Stephane Aviron Morgon Cote du Py Vieilles-Vignes – Similar in fruit but much bigger, with some signs of early oxidation (though I’m not seeing any faults with the closure). The cola notes are stronger here, as is a spicy thread that runs through it. The vinegar-like notes give it a funky character, and the finish has a tobacco kick that doesn’t fit well with the fruit up front. B / $24
2015 Stephane Aviron Chenas Vieilles-Vignes – Another standout from Aviron, its bold fruit laced with hints of cassis, cassia, and hints of milk chocolate. Deftly balanced, it drinks with a velvety touch on the body and finishes with just the lightest hint of sweetness and, at times, a hint of black pepper. An insane bargain. A / $21