Simply stated, I love eating outside. Whether it’s on the patio of my favorite restaurant (cue the ivy covered brick walls), on the deck at home, or at The Perfect Picnic Spot, all I need is delicious food, an amazing bottle (or two) of wine, and sunshine. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to have a theme around which an al fresco moment can be arranged and on July 14, I’m celebrating Bastille Day with a traditional picnic (or pique-nique). My well-stocked basket will include plenty of red, white, and blue accoutrements, a few tasty baguette sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheeses, macarons, and two bottles of memorable wines from Beaujolais. Vive la France!
As you know, everything tastes better with a glass of wine and these baguette sandwiches are no exception. I received two wines from Beaujolais (sent as samples), one from Fleurie and the other from Brouilly, that are exceptional pairings with a variety of Bastille Day (or any day, for that matter) picnic fare.
Beaujolais is located in eastern France, north of Lyon; 61 square miles of vineyards follow the Saône River. Abundant sunshine and mainly granite soil allow for grapes to thrive and present plenty of structure and complexity. The Gamay grape is prevalent, although a very small amount of Chardonnay is used to produce Beaujolais Blanc. Only hand harvesting is allowed in this pastoral wine region of France where 12 appellations can be found, 10 of which are Crus: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas and Saint-Amour.
I loved this exceptional wine. Distinct aromas of vanilla spice, dark cherries, and herbal notes were enticing. On the lush palate, notes of earth, red meat, ripe, juicy cherries, freshly picked raspberries, and spice were bold and rich. Bolstered by medium tannins and bright acidity, this balanced wine from Fleurie was fresh, focused, and never to be forgotten.
Brouilly, Jean-Claude Lapalu, La Croix des Rameaux 2014 ($35) – A mixture of four different soil types gives the wines from Brouilly, an appellation that covers about 20% of the Beaujolais Cru area, its distinct profile. Considered by many to be the “finest Brouilly winemaker in the region”, Jean-Claude is a third generation winemaker who founded his domaine in 1996. The 60 – 80 year old Gamay vines on 12 hectares are from Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne, one of the communes on pink granite with mineral rich clays. Jean-Claude Lapalu is committed to organic viticulture and biodynamic practices. All grapes are hand harvested, then fermented in stainless steel tanks. This unfiltered wine was aged in five year old barrels for nine months.
Pique-nique worthy wine? Oui! Deep red fruit, sweet cherries, fresh raspberries, dried flowers, and a touch of vanilla were lovely on the nose and I anticipated that first sip. Complex and distinctive, mouthwatering acidity and bold tannins were the foundation on which I discovered elements of more red fruit, tobacco, a touch of smoke, bitter dark chocolate, and minerality. The finish was long and satisfying… Don’t forget to tuck in the basket some chocolate confections to pair with this beautiful Brouilly.
Cheers to an al fresco Bastille Day pique-nique! ~ Cindy