In the Pale
The middle ground for Beaujolais
The wine world throws a partisan tizzy over Beaujolais Nouveau each November.
Some find the just-off-the-vines bottles delicious; others think the immature juice lacks true complexity.
Luckily, there’s a solution free of contention: Beaujolais Blanc.
This lighter Beaujolais is uncommon. It is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, which account for only one percent of the fruit grown in the area. So when you see Beaujolais Blanc, grab it: Thanks to old, concentrated vines, white Beaujolais can offer the rich balance of a more established white Burgundy, and at a fraction of the price.
The 2010 Domaine des Terre Dorées Beaujolais Blanc ($17 for 750ml) is an ideal winter white. Neither buttery and oaked nor frilly and floral, this wine tastes of a windy earthiness. Faced with the challenge of standing up to hearty winter recipes, this wine does exceedingly well.
But the real steal comes from Château de Lavernette. The historic vineyard’s Chardonnay grapes are grown along the border of Beaujolais and Pouilly-Fuissé. Both sides of the vineyard share similar climate and terroir, but thanks to a line drawn on a map, the bottlings from the Beaujolais side are considerably cheaper ($21 for 750ml) and plenty delicious.