February 15, 2006

Joseph Drouhin 2004 Morgon

(Imported by Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., New York)

Pinot noir has long been the darling of sommeliers: It's the go-to wine when one person has ordered fish, another fowl, and yet another a big black-and-blue steak. It's light in texture yet full of flavor; gentle yet firm. The only problem? It's often expensive. When I can't find a pinot in my price range, I'll often look to a wine that comes from the same general area as many of the best pinots: beaujolais.

Beaujolais, the place, is considered part of Burgundy, where pinot makes the sort of wines for which people willingly shell out hundreds of dollars. In Beaujolais, however, the vintners grow gamay.

Beaujolais nouveau - the light, simple stuff that floods the shelves every November - has given many the impression that gamay is only good for light, simple wines. But when gamay is grown on good soils - in one of the villages deemed high-enough quality to warrant putting the name of the village on the label, like Morgon - and made with care, the result is a red that has both the juicy cherry-strawberry flavor of the variety and the earthy, minerally underpinnings that relate it to Burgundy, land of profound reds. Drouhin's Morgon is a terrific example, the sort of wine that would fit right in at a table laden with steak frites, duck confit salad and even grilled opah on ratatouille. Your new go-to wine, for $15.

This first appeared in the Denver Post.

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