Treating a supposed Chardonnay hater to a flinty, bone dry Chablis is an old favourite. The revelation that sauternes is a better match for soft cheeses than a hefty red might be another. My favourite is the bombshell that not all Beaujolais is young, fruity, quaffing material. In the UK at least, the more serious Beaujolais-Villages and Cru wines are still not well known. This is a great shame given the amount of bang for your buck that can be had with a Morgon, Fleurie, Julienas or Moulin à Vent (four of my favourite village “Crus”). At their best, these are age-worthy wines which can approach the complexity and structure of some of their Bourgogne cousins just up the road.
A sterling example can be found on the excellent list at “El Vino“. El Vino is a gloriously old fashioned Fleet Street wine bar, where you can still imagine the journalists enjoying a liquid breakfast (not to mention lunch and dinner!). The Moulin à Vent des Hospices 2002 is a suprisingly dark, garnet coloured liquid, smelling of stewed plums and sweet spices. There’s a marked briney quality on the palate, which I find very appealing – it refreshes the palate in time for the next mouthful. Beautifully smooth, but with good body and length, this is about as dark and brooding as Gamay ever gets.
The only caution I’d advise is when pairing this wine with food. Having noted its heft, I figured I could pair it with a beef stew, but the lightweight tannins couldn’t quite keep up, and the subtleties of the wine were lost. I’ve since enjoyed this much more with a simple omelette and salad, or even just on its own. Finally, a confession. If you go to El Vino’s Fleet Street branch, I think they’ve moved onto the 2005 vintage, having run out of the 2002. That’s because some selfish sod liked it so much he bought the last six bottles!