The J L Quinson Beaujolais Villages 2015 is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s import wine from the Beaujolais appellation in eastern central France. Beaujolais is directly south of Burgundy, but instead of the Pinot Noir grape that Burgundy is known for, Beaujolais grows the Gamay grape. Gamay has been grown for 100’s of years and is related to the Pinot Noir grape. The difference is where Pinot is a finicky grape that is hard to cultivate Gamay is a relatively hardy grape that can be harvested several weeks earlier that the Pinot Noir grapes of Burgundy. In France Pinot Noir is king and Gamay gets relegated to 2nd class status but for the price point, Beaujolais packs a punch. There are several levels of Beaujolais, the first is simply Beaujolais AOC where the grapes come from vineyards thru-out the region. The next level up is Beaujolais Villages, there are 38 villages in the district where it is deemed that the vineyards are of special status and a Villages wine comes from grapes grown in one or more of these villages. Then comes Cru Beaujolais which encompasses grapes from 10 extra special locations. It is not uncommon to find Beaujolais for under $20, but it is rare to find a bottle of Villages for $7.99. The alcohol content is 13%.
The color is a barely see-thru garnet red. The nose is red berries, plums, herbs, cashew, and black licorice. This is a dry, medium to light-bodied wine, balanced with good structure. It tastes of cherry, dusty exotic spice, and blueberry. The mid-palate adds herbs and strawberry. The tannins are soft and there is enough acidity to make this a food wine. The finish is full and long.
The J L Quinson Beaujolais Villages 2015 is a very decent Beaujolais, especially considering the price. At no time do you think you are drinking a sub-ten dollar wine. Modern California Pinot Noir in this general price range tend to be more fruit-forward than this Gamay, which makes this Beaujolais seem a bit more elegant than those wines. American Pinot Noir tends to be over-valued and Beaujolais tends to be undervalued. So, if you are a Pinot fan on a budget, exploring Beaujolais is a good way to get a comparable experience at a value price.