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By the Glass

No shame in enjoying Beaujolais’ fruity flavor

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The other day, someone asked what type of wine I feel deserves more attention than it gets. There are many, but for this unusually warm summer, I think it’s Beaujolais.

Historically, Beaujolais has been a much-maligned wine. Once, a friend even categorized it as an "ugly duckling."

At least part of the issue was that, sadly, "fruity" wines are not fashionable.

I have often wondered why. After all, fruity can be cooling, refreshing, uplifting and delicious. Apples, pineapples, papaya and tomatoes, for example, are enjoyed by many on a regular basis. Imagine biting into a cold apple or pineapple slice on a hot day — how refreshing. Why, then, not a fruity wine?

To me, fresh, exuberantly fruity, remarkably light and delicious Beaujolais is one of the world’s quintessential warm-weather sipping wines, especially if it is served slightly chilled.

Furthermore, the really good ones are also amazingly food-friendly with a wide array of foods.

A good example is the Thanksgiving turkey. How many people enjoy their turkey with cranberry? Creating this combination was a stroke of genius. Next time, try a Beaujolais with your turkey. The combination works for similar reasons.

THERE REALLY ARE moods and occasions to enjoy a Gamay Noir, the grape variety used to produce French Beaujolais, just as there are opportunities to enjoy a cabernet, chardonnay or pinot noir.

Why compare these wines? Why not simply appreciate their differences? Each of these grape varieties has distinct characteristics that should be enjoyed accordingly.

Assess a Beaujolais, a Napa Valley cabernet or an Australian chardonnay using different criteria.

I evaluate Beaujolais, for instance, based on deliciousness, food-friendliness and gulpability, the attributes of Beaujolais I adore. Based on these criteria, there are at least 10 100-point Beaujolais currently available in Hawaii to recommend.

Recently, I tasted the newly arrived 2008 Celebration Beaujolais Villages (roughly $16 retail) from the Evening Land wine group. This wine is remarkably light, delicious and wonderfully refreshing. Produced from old vines under the watchful eyes of French star winemakers Christophe Vial & Dominique Lafon, this is the style of wine regional vignerons serve at their dinner table.

A similarly naturally made, stellar Beaujolais worth checking out is the 2009 Domaine Dupeuble. Produced from 50-year-old vines, organically farmed and bottled unfiltered and unfined, this is a Domaine whose Beaujolais we wait for each year. This selection is amazingly delicious and food-friendly. It is why we have served the Dupeuble by the glass at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas since day one.

Something to note: 2009 was an exceptional year for a lot of producers in Beaujolais, so this is an ideal time to check them out. Cheryle and I were there at harvest and suggest you be on the lookout for the soon-to-be released 2009’s from such producers as Jean Foillard, Cedric Chignard, Diochon and Marcel Lapierre.

Hopefully each of these wines will make you a believer.

Until next time, enjoy.


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