French-Swedish wine dealer Caviste once again showed a fresh batch of wines from Georges Descombes in Beaujolais, this time 2014s. I’ve missed out on most of Caviste’s release tastings in the first half of 2016, so it was good to be back at one of his tastings. Even more so since I’ve covered the three previous Descombes releases in a row:
- The release in 2015 with a mixture of the vintages 2013 and 2014
- The release in 2014 with the 2012 vintage
- The release in 2013 with the 2011 vintage. That post also includes some more background information on Beaujolais.
This time, Caviste’s mixed box consisted only of the “Vieilles Vignes” version of the respective wine, which is produced using older vines and is stylistically more suited for cellaring. Conversely, the regular version tends to be more suited for early drinking. The different versions have different labels, which can be recognised by the “young vine” version having the cru name in red letters, while the Vieilles Vignes version uses black letters.
Summary impressions of the 2014 vintage
Based on the four 2014s tasted (one of which was also included last year), my impression is that the 2014 Beaujolais vintage is definitely a quite good vintage with good acidity, freshness and minerality. It is also a vintage which – at least in the case of Descombes – will benefit from some time in the cellar. Martin of Caviste considered the 2014 vintage to be similar to the excellent 2010 vintage. At this stage, I’m not quite sure it reaches that high level, but it definitely is good!
2014 comes across as a little cooler, a little lighter, and more in need of cellaring than 2013. This makes it more similar to 2012, but with some more substance and generally better than the 2012s.
Impression of the individual wines
2014 Brouilly Vieilles Vignes
The nose gives a cool impression with red berries, a hint of liquorice, mineral, and slightly flowery notes. Medium-bodied, palate with red berries, some cherries, good acidity, mineral, some tannic bite, and a fresh aftertaste with acidity, apple, and mineral. A young wine, needs cellaring, 87+ p.
2014 Régnie Vieilles Vignes
Nose with mixed berries including cherries and various red berries, some liquorice, hints of dried fruit and flowery notes. Medium-bodied, berry-dominated palate somewhere between red and dark berries, noticeable minerality, high acidity, and an aftertaste with good minerality. This one definitely shows good mineral notes and the aftertaste is a winner. Reasonably approachable now but should ideally be cellared, 88(+) – 89 p.
The Régnie VV is more approachable than the Brouilly VV, at least at this point in time.
2014 Morgon Vieilles Vignes
Nose with red and mixed berries, more red berry notes than the Régnié VV, hints of animal notes and some mineral. The palate is medium bodied(+) with noticeable mineral notes, berries including red berries and some other mixed berries, good acidity, some tannins, and a firm aftertaste with mineral. Should be cellared, 88+/89+ p.
This one has the most tannin of the three, but the Morgon VV is usually the most powerful of the Descombes lineup, and it is a wine for the cellar also in vintages where most wines are accessible as young.
As reference, we also tasted two wines from previous releases, no longer available for purchase.
Sold in 2015; this is the non-Vieilles Vignes version.
Nose with red berries and some cherries, some animal and developed notes, slightly flowery. The palate is medium-bodied and berry-dominated with cherries, good acidity, well embedded tannins, and an aftertaste which first is berry-dominated and then finishes a bit more firm and apply. 87 p. This wine is distinctly different from the Brouilly VV launched this year.
Last year I scored this wine “85 p?” and commented “So young that it is a bit difficult to evaluate next to the other wines”. I note that I probably underestimated the 2014 vintage at this first encounter (last year), which probably can be related to this being a vintage that would benefit from cellaring.
2012 Morgon Vieilles Vignes
Sold in 2014
Nose with red berries, hints of liquorice, mineral, hints of animal notes and discrete flowery notes. The palate is medium-bodied with berries, good acidity bordering on high, mineral, and a firm and mineral-dominated aftertaste. Not at all very developed and therefore in need of more time, 87+/88(+) p.
In general, this wine comes across as rather similar to those of the 2014 vintage, despite the two additional years it has spent getting ready. It does however seem a bit lighter than the 2014 Morgon VV, with slightly leaner fruit, which has contributed to my assessment that 2014 is a somewhat better vintage than 2012.
Two years ago I scored this wine “87+ p?” and opined “Comes across as young, could develop, somewhat difficult to assess right now”. Well, the impression is still much the same, but Morgon VV is supposed to be the one for the cellar…
Some final words on 2014
The other French 2014s that I have been able to taste rather widely are those from Bordeaux, in particular at a local primeur tasting last year. While 2014 Bordeaux show a somewhat unusual combination of hot and cool tendencies – ripe notes and alcohol as well as high acidity – I consider these 2014 Beaujolais wines to be more of a typical cool(ish) vintage without any unusual features. So 2014 could be a vintage where the style is not exactly the same in all French wine regions.