Beaujolais Villages, 1983. Domaine de Riberolles, Jaffelin| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | October 1984

“Beaujolais” is the café wine of Paris (and naturally of the Beaujolais region too.) “Beaujolais Villages” is the better grade of wine from this famous region of France. The quality is designated by law and by regula­tions of the appelation.The top grade is the “Grand Crus” classifi­cation. They are designated individually by the nine village names. (Brouilly, Chenas, Cotes de Brouilly, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-A-Vent, & St. Amour.) I have previously featured a couple of these, in good years, as club selections.

Beaujolias is in southern Burgundy. It’s wines have a reputa­tion of being quaffing wines. This is justifiable for most of the plain Beaujolais wine sold. However, the better “Villages” grades and the better “Crus” designations are worth stopping for. The Beaujolais group of wines are unique unto themselves in the world of red wines. They do not have ageing potential, and they are fruitier than the others. The “graduate student” in wine tends to snub them.

Well made Beaujolais is charming, refreshing, and worth investigation. Poorly made ones can just be alcoholic grape juice and old ones are just miserable.

Our selection is from the Domaine de Riberolles, a small estate situated near Saint Julien­en-Montmelas, close to Villefranche-sur-Saone. The vine­yards lie in the foothills leading to the Beaujolais mountains. The domaine is about 61 acres, and is composed of older vines. The yield per acre is limited by design to be low, thus consistently producing oustanding quality grapes.

The firm of Jaffelin, well known negociant-eleveur from Burgandy, (see our March ’83 newsletter) have exclusive rights to the wine from the domain. I have been impressed with this Beaujolais-Villages every time I have tasted it, and this 1983 vintage was exceptionally good.

French Beaujolais is made from the Gamay Beaujolais grape. It is not a revered grape for traditional winemaking. However, when handled in a different manner, it produces a distinct style of wine. The process is called carbonic maceration. Basically, it is a process of fermentation at lower than usual temperature, using a blanket of carbon dioxide gas to prevent oxidation. This preserves the fruitiness and youth of the juice. The final product is usually bottled without any barrel ageing. Beaujolais, Beaujolais Superior, or Beaujolais Villages are best when consumed before the next harvest has been released. The “Grand Crus” grades seem to benefit from some bottle ageing, and can still be very good for up to five years passed the harvest.

Our wine is bright purplish red. It has a fresh aroma, bursting with fruit. The varietal character of the Gamay grape is intense. The aroma follows with a slight alcoholic finish to the nose if you sniff hard after swirling! Clean. The taste is dominantly fruity, with a medium to light body. Well balanced. The essence of beaujo­lais flavor is exemplified in this wine. There is a refreshing depth to the fruit. Serve with light lunches, ham entrees, or just as a sipping wine at apperitif time. It can use a slight chill to the bottle before serving.

Cellaring Notes: Drink now through mid ’85. Do not age it.

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