Wine Label

2009 Gilles Gelin Beaujolais Villages
September 8. 2010
312 Orders
3166 Bottles
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Gilles Gelin The Octogenarian's Consensus

When the grapes came in, Gilles Gelin was stupefied. The last weeks of the 2009 harvest in Beaujolais had been a marvel. In a region where Gamay reins supreme, times had been tough over the last decade. Not only had Mother Nature been uncooperative of late, but the international trend towards wines with power in lieu of nuance had punished even the best growers in Beaujolais. But here, at the end of the first week of September, the grapes were still hanging, the natural sugar levels almost unheard of.

When the fruit hit the fermenters, the wonderful aromas of Gamay enveloped Gelin's immaculate winery -- just as they did in each of the very top cellars of the region. It was as if these gorgeous country villages with their church spires and hillside vineyards were awash in floral red fruits.

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Gelin went to the local cafes where the old-timers sat, bathed in the bright September sun sipping their morning espresso and talking festively about the harvest. Fresh from a visit to his grandson's cellar, an 85-year-old local suggested that this was the vintage of his lifetime. He didn't get much of an argument.

When we first met this wildly energetic young winegrower, on a one-day side trip from Nuits St. Georges in a 2009 tasting trip that won't soon be forgotten, we could almost taste the energy that Gelin infuses into his wines. But in 2009, not withstanding Gelin's electric discourse, his Beaujolais did all the talking.

Gelin's 2009 Beaujolais Villages is beautiful ruby in color. The aromas are crushed raspberry-strawberry explosive, flavors wonderfully ripe and lively. But it's the excellent structure of Gelin's 2009 that really tells the story of the vintage, one in which the skin-to-juice ratio is high, infusing Gamay with Pinot-like structure and length. We drank the first bottle at lunch before we finished the first course. The second bottle barely carried us through the fermier St. Nectaire!

The press has finally hit -- as we knew it would. From Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, to Steve Tanzer to Decanter and the Wine Spectator, the critics are agreeing with the octogenarian. The 2009 Beaujolais -- particularly from very top cellars like Gelin's -- is being lauded as the best in 50 years. But what isn't being said, at least not yet, is that this unforgettable harvest will provide for some of the greatest red wine bargains on the planet this fall.

A Vintage Bonanza

How to explain the Burgundy-like ripeness of 2009, where Gamay reached such startling natural sugar levels that the wines seem to have the richness of the Cote de Beaune and the structure to boot? June brought just enough rain to jump-start the vines. Blue skies and moderate temperatures arrived in July and stayed through August, providing for the kind of slow, incremental ripening that makes for a vintage of a lifetime.

But all the journalistic hoopla and buzz in the cafes of Fleurie and Moulin-A-Vent won't empty the cellars in this idyllic region, many of which (though not young Gelin's!) are still full of 2008s. So despite the historic quality of the 2009s, there is virtually no inflation in Beaujolais. The 2009s are selling for roughly the same price as the pedestrian 2008s, and the unexciting 2007s.

Label Image Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log

2009 Gilles Gelin Beaujolais Villages
"Bright ruby color. Explosive aromas of crushed raspberries and strawberries. Mouthwatering red fruit on the attack folding into a finely textured core of ripe red fruit. Bright, vibrant, energetic. Unusually firm, almost Pinot-like finish speaking to the drawn out harvest and high skin-to-juice ratio. Drink now-2014."

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