Clive Coates on the age worthiness of Beaujolais

What William said. Next poor Clive would say Phillip banned it because it was an inferior grape. An old Gamay can be quite wonderful. They age very well and always have. A lot of wine from everywhere in the world was pretty bad in the 1970s and 1980s. Some was wonderful. But Beaujolais has a long history of making great wine and the statement is BS.

Maybe he was referring to the nouveau version, but that’s applicable to the nouveau wines from every wine-making region. Not all wines are meant to age and not all of those that are meant to age actually do age. But to dismiss an entire region with a long history of producing age-worthy wines is just flat out dumb.

But it has us talking. And a lot of wine writing falls into the same category.

I don’t see why tannin is a pre-requisite for ageabiliy. That rules out any whites for example.

I’d be curious to know what his experience with aged quality Cru Beaujolais is. It is a bit of a niche product but one would think a wine writer with his experience would have come across quite a few.


Well, he’s not the first person I’ve disagreed strongly with on some issue and I’m sure he won’t be the last.

That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. neener

Posts like this are why we need a “like” button.

For anyone who has read enough of Clive’s stuff, or who has been at an event where he is there in person, he is completely hierarchical. Gamay is the lowest rung on the ladder for him. It can never be better than that.

A friend hosted a dinner last year with Xavier Barbet, from Domaine des Billards in St. Amour. Tasted vintages back to 60s. Both '67 and '76 were really great (69 was good). I like old wines, but I wasn’t making any excuses- I don’t think anyone would find the wines from the 60s and 70s tired.

I’d be curious to try them. I know Neal was joking in part, but to this day I’ve never had a single bojo, out of dozens of crus, that I particularly enjoyed. In each instance I couldn’t help but thinking, “if only I’d bought [fill in grape other than gamay] instead.” What’s the allure? I’m not trying to kick shit on your shoes. I’m legitimately curious, and if I were to go get a few, what would you suggest are “must try” bojo to convert a non-believer?

Before doing that – can you name 3-4 wines that are your go-to wines? The stuff you drink regularly and love above all else? That will help a little…

Not everyone loves Gamay. There is no specific wine to make converts of everyone.

I have several knowledgeable friends, with excellent palates who cannot stand the stuff - even the good stuff (e.g. Coudert, Metras, Brun, Foillard, etc.).

I legitimately don’t have that. I drink a lot of champagne and sparkling wine, but drink many styles and producers from Roederer Estate to vintage Krug. I drink bordeaux and napa cab, probably 1:1.5 ratio. I drink oregon pinot and lighter style cali pinot. I drink northern rhones from various producers. I like burgundy a lot, but don’t own or buy that much due to knowledge and QPR limitations. I’ll happily drink barolo, brunello (of older and newer styles), and even super tuscans. I like rioja and ribera quite a bit.

Not trying to sidestep you, but my buying habits are all over the map. To me that’s the fun of wine. There is so much great stuff and it’s great because of its differences. The two things I’ve just scratched my head over, though, are still rose and bojo. There are other things I get but don’t like to drink, like basically all stickies, amarone, big spanish garnachas, and overdone aussie shiraz and grenache. But I’m mostly pretty open.

I agree wholeheartedly with William and Greg. Beaujolais ages beautifully and Clive’s statement is flat out incorrect. Perhaps he has learned the errors of his ways by now, (relocating to the region for retirement), as he did write it a long time ago, but it was no more accurate in 1990 than it is today. His blanket statement about the region was a disservice to the top vignerons there of that era and seems likely to have been based on a dearth of experience and a snobbish view of Beaujolais. No need to make excuses for him saying that the region had less serious winegrowers back in the '70s and '80s than it does today, as the same was also empirically true for the Cote d’Or and I do not see him damning that region with the same blanket statement. Either Clive just did not (or does not) know Beaujolais or does not like it (which is okay, as for each his own tastes), but that should have no bearing on the accuracy of his statement and he should have been professional enough to not make it in the first place, but maybe he was in his cups.

I had the pleasure to share the 1964 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie with William last spring in Beaune and it was the best red wine we had that night, in what was a varied and quite serious lineup. I have drunk Moulin-a-Vent bottles from the 1945, 1947 and 1949 vintages that were just stellar, with all of these being served blind as ringers at big, Cote d’Or events. I was also with Dale when we drank those old vintages of Domaine des Billards St. Amour and can confirm his impressions- the best wines were truly outstanding and every vintage was at least quite good and had evolved nicely. Cru Beaujolais can age beautifully and the wines are very interesting and complex at these advanced ages. Whether one happens to like Gamay or not is a completely separate issue from whether or not Beaujolais can age gracefully, and we should not confuse the two in the wake of a sloppily-made assertion by Clive, without his supplying any bit of evidence to support his assertion. He probably did not know the right wines to drink back then (or now); I could very easily put together a lineup of C List old red Burgundies for you to taste blind that would emphatically “prove” to you that “Red Burgundy does not age”. It all depends on the quality of the growers one selects. We have to be a bit more intellectually sophisticated when it comes to statements such as Clive’s above and treat it with a bit of skepticism, unless he comes up with some evidence to support such a sweeping statement.

I have also had some older vintages at THAT PLACE THAT YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO MENTION. I would not say that they were some of the best wines I have ever had, but most of them were very good to excellent. Memorable? Yes.

I’m guessing he’s not on this board? It would be great to get an up to date comment from him.

Clive snobbish? Say it ain’t so!

(He probably has a tattoo that says “Snob” in elaborate lettering.)

I love reading old wine books. It’s amazing how much more sophisticated wine is as a hobby in 2018 than it was in 1990 – let alone 1950.

So you’re a pot stirrer.

A lovely, recent bottle of 1938 Maison Thorin Moulin-à-Vent apparently had no idea it wasn’t supposed to age.

I once raided an old cellar with wines from the father of Lalou Leroy : Henri Leroy All the wines were negoce from 1929 . Vosne Romanee , Nuits St Georges , Clos de Vougeot etc . The shapes of the bottles were very different .
The best wines were the Moulin-a-Vent and the Fleurie . Stunning wines .
Clive Coates is a joke .

Perhaps only a taster of Clive’s stature could recognize its dreariness.