Your New Gamay Beau (Tasting Georges Duboeuf 2015 Cru Beaujolais)

Vinted on December 14, 2016 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, overachiever wines, wine review
Beaujolais Nouveau party

Celebrating the Beaujolais Nouveau release, Burgundy style, in NYC

The term “vintage of the century” has been tossed around like confetti by the French lately (though we can forgive them, I suppose, given the hella-bad weather some of their regions have been suffering in the last couple of vintages). It’s become more of an eye-roll-inducing a phrase than “private email server.”

And so it’s with a bit of uncharacteristic understatement that I use the term in reference to 2015 in the humble hamlet of Beaujolais. Yeah, that place that churns out the Nouveau stuff. The fact of the matter is, 2015 was probably an actual vintage of the century for Beaujolais.

Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé

I got a quick crash course in this when I was invited last month to NYC, to a dinner celebrating the release of Georges Duboeuf’s 2016 Nouveau (ok, quit the eye-rolling, it’s tasty, quaffable stuff when in the hands of folks who know what they’re doing with it… their 2016 Nouveau is fruity, fresh, clean, and delicious enough that you could mistake it for Beaujolais Villages blind).

Anyway, it was during that trip (thankfully before the dinner and after-parties) that I got to sit down with Franck Duboeuf, who walked me through several of their more substantial 2015 Cru area wines. Frank is well-steeped in the vino of the family business; he and his father taste with two oenologists, twice a day. The volume? “50 samples, minimum,” he told me; “after 40 years, we don’t have to talk.”

While Franck is a bit on the mild-mannered side, his family’s 2015 Cru releases did a crap ton of talking, and those who love good Cru Beauj ought to be listening. Closely. Because this vintage is putting the game in Gamay, and the beau in Beaujolais…

Franck Duboeuf

Franck Duboeuf, and the author, both of whom are not at home


2015 Georges Duboeuf Domaine de Combiaty (Brouilly, $20)

This is one of the largest domaines for GD, in one of the largest appellations in Beaujolais, with a predictably larger variety of soils. The wine is quite mineral, with black berry fruits, licorice, pepper, and sweet plum. The palate is smooth, broad, and lithe, with a bite of structure at the end, courtesy of the Gobelet-trellised, 60-year old vines. The food pairing options are practically limitless, and it’s balanced enough to please both those who like their reds a bit lighter, and those who would rather feel a little tannic edge in their vino.

2015 La Madone Fleurie

2015 Georges Duboeuf La Madone (Fleurie, $20)

The vines here are younger (20+ years), planted on what Franck calls “pink granite,” hilly soils. This is a very obvious Beaujolais in its floral, grapey, carbonic-maceration nose, but the fruits are dark (in Beaujolais terms), with cassis and coca peeking out. Things get quite serious on the palate; it’s actually downright grippy. You could put a few years of bottle aging on this puppy, and it likely won’t break a sweat.

Domaine de Quatre Vents Fleurie 2015

elegant2015 Georges Duboeuf Domaine de Quatre Vents (Fleurie, $22)

50-ish year old vines in this spot, also on pink granitic soils, from vineyards that have been owened by the Darroze family since the 1950s. The wine is, in a word, gorgeous; spicy, floral, silky, full of ripe red berry fruits, topped off with cloves and earthiness. There’s even a touch of heat on the palate, but no freshness is sacrificed. Think confident and feminine. Also think roast chicken.

2015 Georges Duboeuf Domaine du Riaz

elegant2015 Georges Duboeuf Domaine du Riaz (Cote-de-Brouilly, $20)

Here, there are stony, basalt soils around an ancient volcano, with 50-year old vines farmed by the Brac de la Pierre family. The wine is better than the outdated label; spicy, mineral, bright, and downright lovely. Pepper and earth notes, tapenade, candied red berries all kick things off; the palate is lively, and delicate, before moving to a territory that is both structured and delicious.


2015 Georges Duboeuf Domaine de Javernieres Cote du Py (Morgon, $20)

The Lecoque clan farms the south-facing plots that house the 50-year-old vines used in this Morgon. Fragrant and rosy, with licorice, spices, pepper, and plums, all of the elements are there for a killer Cru Beauj. You know it’s Morgon with the extra bit of body and the hints of deeper structure, but you get the added bonus of a finish that’s spicy, full, and quite long. A friend to meats and cheeses.






  • Matthew Ford

    That’s pretty cool you got to sit down with Franck Duboeuf and have him personally walk you through some great wine. Sounds like an awesome party and to be honest I;m pretty jealous :)

    • 1WineDude

      Yeah, Matthew, I get that a lot. :)

  • Bob Henry

    There was a Jean Descombes Moulin-a-Vent bottling at one time.

    Does it still exist? Did you sample it?

    The 2009 bottling from the “vintage of the Sun” was an eye opener.

    • 1WineDude

      Bob – I haven’t had the `15 of that, last I had was the `11, and I thought that was delightful.

  • Bob Henry

    Is there such a thing as a wine “better than perfect”?

    Why, yes — and the first example in wine reviewing recorded history was the 1989 Georges Duboeuf “Jean Descombes” cru Morgon Beaujolais.

    Join me dear readers as we step into our H. G. Wells time travel machine to 1989.

    Robert Parker is being interviewed by Wine Times magazine (later renamed Wine Enthusiast):

    WINE TIMES: How is your scoring system different from The Wine Spectator’s?

    PARKER: Theirs is really a different animal than mine, though if someone just looks at both of them, they are, quote, two 100-point systems. Theirs, in fact, is advertised as a 100-point system; mine from the very beginning is a 50-point system. If you start at 50 and go to 100, it is clear it’s a 50-point system, and it has always been clear. Mine is basically two 20-point systems with a 10-point cushion on top for WINES THAT HAVE THE ABILITY TO AGE. . . .

    . . .

    It’s a fairly methodical system. The wine gets up to 5 points on color, up to 15 on bouquet and aroma, and up to 20 points on flavor, harmony and length. And that gets you 40 points right there. And then the [balance of] 10 points are … simply awarded to WINES THAT HAVE THE ABILITY TO IMPROVE IN THE BOTTLE. THIS IS SORT OF ARBITRARY AND GEETS ME INTO TROUBLE.

    . . .

    WINE TIMES: Do you have a bias toward red wines? Why aren’t white wines getting as many scores in the upper 90s? Is it you or is it the wine?

    PARKER: Because of that 10-point cushion. Points are assigned to the overall quality but also to the potential period of time that wine can provide pleasure. And white Burgundies today have a lifespan of, at most, a decade with rare exceptions. Most top red wines can last 15 years and most top Bordeaux can last 20, 25 years. It’s a sign of the system that a great 1985 Morgon [cru BEAUJOLAIS] is not going to get 100 points because it’s not fair to the reader to equate a BEAUJOLAIS with a 1982 Mouton-Rothschild. YOU ONLY HAVE THREE OR FOUR YEARS TO DRINK THE BEAUJOLAIS.

    WINE TIMES: In your system, what would be the highest rated BEAUJOLAIS?

    PARKER: 90 [points]. That would be a “perfect” BEAUJOLAIS, and I’ve never given one. I have given a lot of 87s and 88s.

    [Bob Henry’s comment : In 1990, Parker awarded a score of 92 points to the 1989 vintage Georges Duboeuf “Jean Descombes” cru Morgon BEAUJOLAIS, contradicting his then year-old statement above.]

    WINE TIMES: So it’s the AGING POTENTIAL that is the key factor that gets a wine into the 90s.

    PARKER: Yes. And it goes back to how I evaluate vintages in general. To me the greatness of a vintage is assessed two ways: 1) its ability to provide great pleasure — wine provides, above all, pleasure; 2) THE TIME PERIOD OVER WHICH IT CAN PROVIDE THAT PLEASURE.

    . . .

    [CAPITALIZATION used for emphasis. ~~ Bob]

    • 1WineDude

      Bob, the scores topic… you are KILLING me! :)

      • Bob Henry

        . . . only with kindness, dear sir. Only with kindness!

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