Over copious glasses of Beaujolais at a lunch organized by Beaujolais producers at San Francisco's RN74 yesterday, discoveries were made and assumptions were destroyed.
1. The marketing craze for fruit-juicy Beaujolais Nouveau appears to tire Beaujolais people. "The future is all in non-Nouveau," said Jean Bourjade, director of Inter Beaujolais. The 2009 vintage is one of the best in a century, according to people who have drunk a lot of Beaujolais; it was indeed fantastic.
2. The Beaujolais region grows Chardonnay beautifully (white grapes make up about 2 percent of the entire region). We tried the Domaine des Terres Dorees. It was restrained but rich, fruity, and creamy.
3. These wines are ridiculously cheap for how good they are; the most expensive bottle we tried retails at around $30. Most hovered around $15. The delicious 2009 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages is under $10 and will soon make many appearances at dinner parties.
4. Though we tried only bottles from the 2009 vintage, we were assured by Rajat Parr, wine director of the Michael Mina Group, that, carefully cellared, Beaujolais will last for years. It's generally low in tannins, but the acidity provides enough structure to allow the wine to age gracefully.
5. In a maverick move the restaurant paired the wines with Asian-inflected food; ginger, tamari, and star anise were surprisingly good companions to the wines.