What wine should most people be thinking about drinking on July 4th? How about a 1983 beaujolais? Yes, I did say 1983. Most wine enthusiasts gulp up their supplies of beaujolais within a year of the vintage, as they have been told time and time again that this effusively grapy, gutsy, fresh wine loses its fruit and turns dull and stale if held for more than 14 to 18 months.
However, the 1983 beaujolais were not only splendid wines, they were also freaks. They were unusual in that they were not only a typically robust, full-bodied, even tannic wine, but were also quite concentrated and have aging potential. In size and dimension they have more in common with their more expensive brethren to the north, the red wines of Burgundy.
Given the Washington climate, with its high heat and humidity, a nicely chilled beaujolais is certainly my first preference when it comes to drinking a red wine during summer. Merchants still have good stocks of the 1983s, and one should definitely take a look at some of the better offerings.
The following 1983 beaujolais are superior to virtually anything produced in that region in 1984, and the best of them are just now coming in to full maturity and will make an excellent choice, whether as an aperitif or as a complement to the outdoor barbecue. Consumers should, though, keep one thing in mind when purchasing a 1983 beaujolais. It is advisable to stick to one of the crus. The crus are the more serious beaujolais, and there are nine of them -- Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, St. Amour, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon and Moulin A Vent. The biggest and richest of them are Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon and Moulin A Vent, so they would get first consideration in my shopping.
Georges DuBoeuf, or Mr. Beaujolais as he is called by his peers, made particularly good wines in 1983. At the top of the DuBoeuf line of beaujolais are his single-vineyard or single-grower wines. The Julienas "Domaine des Vignes," the Fleurie "Des Deduits," the Chiroubles "Desmures," the Morgon "Jean Descombes," and the Moulin A Vent "Domaine des Heritiers Tagent" are his best wines in 1983 and they all sell for less than $7 a bottle. For his standard bottlings of beaujolais in the "Flower Bottle" (called that because of the flower patterns on the label) the two best bets for drinking now would be the Morgon and the Fleurie, which retail for about $5 a bottle.
Another producer who makes excellent beaujolais is Jean Bedin. His wines were good even in the mediocre vintage of 1982, but it is the 1983s that you should be looking at for drinking now. Be sure to try his Morgon, Moulin A Vent or Julienas, which are available for about $6 a bottle.
A third producer who can make exciting beaujolais that will hold up and actually improve in the bottle is Pierre Ferraud. Both his Morgon "Pont L'Eveque" and Moulin A Vent are excellent wines that are showing brilliantly at the moment.
Lastly, don't ignore the single vineyard offerings from Robert Sarrau that include the Brouilly "Domaine de Bonnege," the Chenas "Donmaine des Pins," the Fleurie "Grand Pre" and the Moulin A Vent "Domaine de Prieure." All of these wines are available for less than $7 a bottle.
No doubt there will be some pleasant 1984s that the merchants will probably be publicizing. But, the 1983s are so good and showing so well at the moment that they should be your preferred choice should you decide to drink this refreshingly exuberant, grapy, round, heady wine this summer.