Nicole Chanrion Domaine de la Voute des Crozes Cote-de-Brouilly 2005 Tasting Notes
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Nicole Chanrion Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes Côte-de-Brouilly 2005 Tasting Notes

When Nicole Chanrion attended Burgundy's School of Viticulture in Beaune in the 1970s, women wine students were expected to concentrate on laboratory studies. Nicole preferred to get dirt under her fingernails. She took over her father's winegrowing property in the Beaujolais Côte-de-Brouilly, and has made strides with the tiny domain ever since, letting the wine itself push through all preconceptions. She is the current president of the Côte-de-Brouilly appellation, an area known for its hard rocks, a tough hill on which to grow vines. As we know, of course, the tough places, and the steadfast people who farm them, often combine to bring us stellar wines.

A tasty $16 wine this is. It has plenty of body for its type, more complexity than many Beaujolais offerings and yet a light drinkable attitude all the same. The varied fruit arrives with steady acidity and a respectable and appropriate level of tannin. It takes a second glass to register all these impulses, but this is a wine you drink.

The nose brings primarily red fruit—cherry, strawberry and raspberry—with a sense behind it of preserved or candied fruit: cherries in brandy, perhaps, or fig. I noted a floral touch of rose with a sprig or two of smoked wild thyme in the mix.

The palate repeats all these notes, but with a greater tang, more a presence of cranberry and dried apricot. There is spice: black pepper up front with nutmeg and clove further back. The dried smoked thyme reappears and pushes through into a mild licorice note. The fruit is never far from the front of the stage, however.

The finish of this wine shows a nice combination of the elements, with tannin playing more of a role than I have found in most Beaujolais. Though unquestionably a serious wine from a serious hill, the Chanrion Voûte des Crozes is at the same time a concentrated expression of Gamay, the delightful grape of Beaujolais.


Verdict: Taste and Depth
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A great deal of Beaujolais is sold in the United States, but the best Beaujolais has to offer still has a public-image hill to climb. Don't fret about this; it means the wine costs less.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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