By now, thanks to the loud and insistent pleadings of wine writers, you’ve doubtless gleaned the following truths about being Beaujolais:
Beaujolais Nouveau is released every year only in mid-November.
Beaujolais Nouveau is wildly overhyped and is really not worth your time or money.
If you are going to drink Beaujolais at Thanksgiving, then by god it better be Cru.
Yes, skip Nouveau, drink Cru: This is the take-home advice that will best benefit your holiday dinner and the people guzzling it around your table. Cru Beaujolais is grown in the 10 zones in the Beaujolais region of France that produce the most complex and interesting wines using the region’s signature red grape, gamay. Among those 10 charmed spots is the appellation known as Fleurie, and it is here that one of the greatest of all Beaujolais, the Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvee Tardive, is produced.
The winery itself is named for the Roilette vineyard, a manganese-rich site where it has most of its vines. The Coudert family bought the property in the 1960s, and under Alain Coudert, the current owner and winemaker, Clos de la Roilette is turning out some of the most pleasurable wines on the planet. The crown jewel in the Coudert portfolio is the Cuvee Tardive, which is made from octogenarian vines in the Roilette vineyard and which was apparently given that name as a gentle poke at the Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon (tardive means late; no on ever accused the French of being funny).
The 2011 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvee Tardive ($27) is a knockout, and shows why this bottling has acquired something approaching cult status among Beaujolais diehards. Enthralling black cherry, violet, and mineral scents lead to a sinewy, richly flavored, supremely gulpable wine. If you are going to open a bottle this Thanksgiving (or any other time in the near future), it would be best to decant it for a few hours: The wine drinks well out of the bottle, but a little aeration will make it even better. Note: Clos de la Roilette also makes a regular Fleurie that is consistently delicious, too, and can be a little more approachable in its youth.