Some of my favorite wines for this time of year come from Beaujolais. Any wine consumer has heard of this region, but how many really know it? Say Beaujolais and images of the ubiquitous bottles of Beaujolais Villages from Louis Jadot or Georges Duboeuf fill everyone's mind. Yet Beaujolais is far more than that. The region is made up of ten villages or Crus that each produce wines made from the Gamay grape. Each has their own style and they range from light and breezy to almost full bodied and austere. Typically they are inexpensive, usually costing less than $20.00, but can range as high as $30.00 or more.
Because of this, exploring Beaujolais can be fairly easily done and the rewards are great. These Cru wines offer some of the best quality to price (or QPR as the cool kids say) ratios in the world of wine. These are the ten Crus or villages listed (relatively) from heaviest/most full bodied to lightest.
Cote de Brouilly
Georges Duboeuf produces many versions of each of these Cru wines, but finding small artisanal producers can be much more satisfying especially to a wine geek like myself. One of the easier ones to locate and try out is the Burgundy producer Nicolas Potel. I am a huge fan of his old vines Julienas. It is easily found for under $15.00 on the shelf and is an easy wine to cuddle up to with its rich, ripe, red currant fruit, soft tannins, and undertone of mineral.
On a damp, rainy evening three night ago, I put together a quick peasant meal of pasta y fagiole.
This was a large recipe meant to produce leftovers as this dish is as we frequently say, better on the second night.
1 lb of dried beans such as canellini, red kidney, or as I used, pinto soaked briefly and simmered gently until done, about an hour or two cans of good quality beans.
I cooked the beans in the afternoon and let them cool in the water I cooked them in. This liquid goes into the recipe later.
-1 medium onion diced small
-3 ribs of celery diced small
-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thin
-1 cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Saute the vegetable gently in the EVOO with a pinch of kosher or sea salt and crushed red pepper, until they are translucent and fragrant.
Add in a pinch of dried oregano.
While the vegetables are sauteeing, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook 1lb of ditalini pasta al dente about 7 minutes.
*If you are using canned beans reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water before draining.
Drain the pasta, add the beans to the vegetables, add in about 8 oz of the bean/pasta water, and add in the pasta. The mixture should be wet enough to continue cooking the pasta for another 3 minutes or so. Add in a couple of ounces of EVOO and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
I prefer this to be served a little on the soupy side, but my Mom used to make it drier and more compact.
Once served, top with grated Reggiano Parmigiano and a finishing quality EVOO.
The wine paired very well with this matching the earthiness of the vegetables and beans and the sharp tang of the cheese.
Although Beaujolais purists criticize Potel's style as too much Burgundy not enough Beaujolais, I still really like this wine. As I frequently do, I cellar bottles of certain vintages to watch their evolution. They certainly have aging potential as do most good quality Beaujolais, and it's cheap and cheery fun.