Beaujolais aging curve? response from David..

I’m having a difficult time understanding the aging curve in Beaujolais.

I am back from vacation where I had a chance to read ‘I’ll drink to that’ from Rudolph Chelminski, a book mostly about Duboeuf, the food of Lyon and a really insightful look into everyday life of the Beaujolais, highly recommended if you have not read it. But from the insiders view the aging curve for Bojo is at least 10-25 years if not 75.

Combing through my emails I received an email for Potel Av’s 09’ Bojo’s. Reading the corresponding review from SchildKnecht, It was glowing in every way which is why I don’t understand it. Read this review and tell me this wine is only going to last 3 years, meat has to last more than that…

“The Potel-Aviron 2009 Fleurie Vieilles Vignes hails from the Point du Jour – near the edge of the Moulin-a-Vent appellation – and La Madone. Tart-edged purple plum and pomegranate are tinged with salt, pungent herbs, and a savory sense of meaty pan drippings, all of which combine for a forceful, invigorating, and saliva-inducing finish. This polished, ripe yet vibrant and not in the least superficially sweet cru should age well for another 2-3 y.”

Is David saying that there is a certain character or enjoyment that only last 3 years and then what happens? Does it change into something different after that time that is no longer recommended? I guess to a larger question, why does Beaujolais and it’s wines get dissed all the time? Fine wine is considered for the most part, to be a wine that can ‘age’. If reviews continue to list a short window of drinkability for Bojo it will never get past the 09’ vintage.

Yes, I know that if the secret get’s out, prices will go up, but what if it opened the market up? What if it allowed the quality to continue to improve and we see more product being imported? I think a price increase in the upper tier is justified, I’m not going to bitch about a really killer $27 bottle of wine that delivers far above it’s pay grade and better in quality than most Bourgogne Rouge.
Especially when the Potel-Av’s are $15.99.

Honestly, does the drinking window make sense? If so can you explain it…


I’m a Beaujolias newbie so my thoughts about aging curves are largely speculation but Ive had 8 year old beaujolias that was still on an upward trajectory. I havn’t tried that wine but I think SchildKnecht is likely smoking crack if he thinks a good 2009 cru beaujolais will only last 3 years if that is indeed what he means.

BTW, I think there have been some threads here that discuss this issue in depth. Its worth a search.

I have a book from the 80’s with an interview where Jean-Claude Vrinat from Taillevent talked about just having finished off his 1947 Fleurie!

Read John Gilman if you want a recent long view on Beaujolais aging potential. Others value them for their youthful freshness.

I have to say that some of the 09s seem built for aging, though. I just had the Jadot Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent and the rest of them are going to wait at least several years.

No idea, but I know of people that have drunk many from the 20’s - 40’s that say they are pretty amazing, although exactly what grapes they used is an interesting point of discussion.

I do have a '23 Moulin a Vent coming I am eager to open…

I think David simply likes them younger. That said, I don’t think there are too many built for the very long haul, as they were in the old days. I think, and I’m guessing here, 5-8 years is a sweet spot, maybe up to 10-12, for most of the better Crus. There are a couple I see as better distance runners. I have had older Roilette Tardive that was glorious, Desvignes is so dense early that I have to think it will go long as well, and then there are the Jadot bottlings. I have never had Foillard, Lapierre et al beyond 7-8yrs old. I can see them holding on but am not sure about the sort of transformation I have seen with Roilette. But John says to be patient, so I’ve got some science experiments going.

Cliff knows more about these wines than I do, but it seems to me that the curve is all over the place, depending, as it does, on the confluence of maker, vintage, and vineyard. At least two of these parameters seem to vary more in Beaujolais than in, say, Burgundy. Anyway, for Cru bottlings from good producers and good years, Cliff’s window seems ballpark to me. We finished an 05 Thivin Cote de Brouilly yesterday that was just opening up on the third day after opening (and quite lovely it was).

Fwiw, I was browsing the Chermette website the other day and surprised by the relatively early windows they offer for the Vissoux wines.

Re: David’s published drinking windows, I wonder if they are edited. His reviews showed very early drinking windows for a number of 05 Beaune 1ers, too, which surprised me a great deal.

+1 on beaujolais aging curves running the entire gamut. Moulin a vent is going to, on average, take longer than a Morgon, but I would wait a longer time on Desvignes Morgon Javenierres than I would Vissoux’s Moulin a vent. And, of course, vintage matters. Most 2007s seemed to be drinking great right out of the gates while the few 2009s I drank seemed like they needed some more years to settle down and let their fruit recede. '09 Coudert Cuvee Tardive—not planning to open another one of those for five years, and probably really should wait 10. But, of course, I had the '09 Vissoux Moulin a vent and it seemed to be drinking great young.

I’m intrigued. Which two, and what makes you think so? TIA.

There is definitely at least one thread on this, but I can’t locate it right now. IIRC the aging potential depends a lot on the vintage, etc.

I’d say the discrepancy comes from producers making wines without sulfur. That can put aging windows all over the map. I also think, and this is only my opinion and I have tremendous respect for David S, that professional critics do not want to put a 15-20 year window on Beaujolais in print. Most people associate Beaujolais with nouveau and have no idea about the Crus. Critics know about “sans souffre”, couple that with the fact that Gamay is awfully approachable regardless of age, and the safer bet is to recommend a shorter drinking window. I’ll take this over Jay Miller offering a 25 year window on Washington Syrah or Spanish Garnacha.

The good thing here is these wines are inexpensive enough to buy by the six pack or case and experiment for yourself. I personally think that the amount of acid alone allows for 10 years on the wines. Just my .02

Beaujolais aging curves might be all over the place, but the best thing about Bojos is that they are relatively inexpensive, so it is easy to buy a bunch and experiment with them.
In any case, a good producer in a good year will be making bottles of cru-level wine that can easily improve for ten years. Often they just do not seem to need the extra time; they are delicious even when they’re “too young.” I’ve been drinking the '07 Vissoux Fleuries lately; excellent now, but they could go the long haul.

OP: I’ve also read Chelminski’s book; an excellent read. I think the book gives a clue to why Bojo gets so little respect: the old Nouveau campaigns were too successful. Bojo got pigeon-holed as a light-weight curiosity you drink once a year. A local retailer I know who loves the crus like I do gets frustrated when he tries to turn people on to serious Bojo: they cannot get the Nouveau image out of their heads.

The vast minority of Beaujolais producers.

Silly drinking windows in wine-reviewing publications isn’t a phenomenon unique to Beaujolais. I’m really at a loss to understand what’s driving this because at least some of these reviews are written by people who ought to know better. I wonder if it has something to do with a deep, unexpressed desire of consumers to be told that keeping a wine for 3-5 years counts as cellaring and aging a wine. If we tell the truth, that most wines don’t really start to reward aging until they’re 20 years old or so, maybe a lot of people lose interest. That’s a pretty serious time commitment, especially for people who might expect to be in their dotage by that point. If they lose interest, they stop reading wine reviews. Maybe it is better from a writer’s perspective to tell people what they want to hear.

Beaujolais admittedly is a special case. For most producers the quality improvements that make the wine ageable are historically recent, so they don’t have the track record other wines have that lets us make an informed guess about the future. Moreover, there are a lot of people who drink them for their juicy fruit and aren’t at all interested in what they’ll turn into with bottle age. For these people, a three-year drinking window isn’t unreasonable. Still, you would think a thoughtful writer might want to express this nuance rather than throwing out a random number that everybody knows is silly.

I had a '47 Quancard Fleurie 3 years ago that was still magnificent.

I think the first part of this is key along with the fact that popular pressure militates for a drinking window sooner. In general, I ignore drinking windows now because it’s SO personal. Do you like your wine with plenty of fruit? Or are you a fan of tertiary aromas? Drinking windows further the idea of a peak drinking time which is nonsense. Any decent wine will age far longer than we usually assume - whether it’s at the point where a particular person wants it to be at is entirely another question.

By the way, while I’ve not had the Potel Aviron Fluerie, I just had a bottle of the Julienas and it was quite nice. The wine was a bit on the tart cherry side so don’t expect this to be one of the lush, dense 09s. Lovely stuff and inexpensive to boot.

Actually, I wonder if the expense is part of the issue… that some assume that a $20 wine can’t possible age for 10+ years.

One other data point. 2005 was the first vintage I cellared any Beaujolais, so I’ve been as curious as anyone about the aging curve to expect. When the 2009s came out and I decided to cellar a whole lot of them, I went back and sampled some 2005s. If they weren’t built to handle 4 years in the cellar, those bottles would have been the canaries. To a wine, they were still primary and showed hardly any development at all. (I poured a Vissoux to a group and someone asked me, “Is this the 2009 or 2010?”) So 4 years is a silly number to anyone expecting any transformation. But if transformation is what you’re trying to avoid and you like them to taste exactly how they do on release, then these numbers make sense.

Very much agreed. Without appreciable producer/bottling track records, there’s mostly just a lot of guessing. The 05 Desvignes Morgon Javenierres is NOT ready, neither are some of Jadot’s like the 05 Chateau Jacques MaV Grand Carquelin. Agree on the 07s. I’ve had some older 03s, not exactly the ideal aging vintage, that ranged from tired to quite good.

I tasted a few 09 Potel-Avirons at LaPaulee and found them very attractive, especially the Brouilly, and in need of a couple years IMHO. Popped an 09 Coudert Fleurie Tardive in honor of Joe D the other night. I don’t think 5 years will hurt it a bit and 10 would be an interesting experiment.


I would argue that the Beaujolais have known that their wine is worth cellaring and it is the rest of us (uneducated buying public) that won’t accept the fact, I don’t think this is current, but has always been this way. I also am stumped why David has such short windows, that’s why I am asking the question about aging curve.
Is David saying that there is a specific profile that gets lost after a certain time or does it change so dramatically that his reviews are not useful?
But using the logic of aging a wine 20 years and the vast majority of customers losing interest in reviews, how do you explain Bordeaux then or the rest of the fine wine world? That was sort of my point.
People want wines to age, or at least believe that the wines they are purchasing will age forever, that’s part of the intrigue for purchasing and spending a large amount on wine.
After reading ‘I’ll drink to that’ I come away with the idea that I am the idiot for not investing more money in Bojo and less in other regions. It seems like the same cloud that Riesling use to live under.

I agree that aging windows are useless to me but the buying public looks at 2-3 years and figures, why bother, the wine must not be that great and only 90 pts. But then DR. Big J gives a wine 97pts and 20 years and the customer thinks that the later wine is the better ‘deal’. I’ve seen it happen alot.


I was about to take issue with that, Berry - but only because I repeatedly misread ‘minority’ as ‘majority.’ Reading really is fundamental…


Low sulfur, on the other hand, is increasingly common. Still a minority, I suspect, but a growing one.

Look at all the notes people post on Bordeaux that isn’t even 10 years old. Or look at all the baby boomers who loaded up on 2005 Bordeaux that won’t be ready to drink until they’re dead. It’s sort of like the old canard about dry/sweet wine - people say they want dry but drink sweet - well, people say they want vins de garde and then open them up after 5 years. I understand it, I really do - look back at some of the wines you bought 5 years ago - feels like they’ve been sitting there forever, doesn’t it? There is nothing else in this day and age where we have to defer our gratification for so long.