An Interview with Georges Duboeuf’s Export Director for North America

Continued from Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 est Arrivé

I had the opportunity to interview via telephone Yann Bourigault, George Duboeuf’s Export Director for North America.  Yann, who was in Chicago for the city’s arrival party, works closely with the winemaking team at Georges Duboeuf and numerous domaines and family partners.

The Amateur Gastronomer: 2008 was a particularly difficult year for Beaujolais, whereas 2009 produced a Beaujolais Nouveau that Georges Duboeuf called the best vintage in the last 50 years.  How does the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau compare?

Yann Bourigault: 2010 is going to turn out to be a really good vintage.  We’re very happy with it.  It’s a notch below 2009 because really I think that 2009 will remain as a benchmark, as far as quality vintages in Beaujolais.

The 2010 is the sort of vintage that got us worried at one point — some years you know right away it’s going to be great or it’s going to be bad.  The vintage of ’09 we weren’t sure because we had a great growing season and then the months of August got a little rainy.  [This] July was beautiful but August got a little cold and rainy.  Rain is not that big of a deal in France because keep in mind we cannot irrigate, so we do need a little rain once in a while.  But what happened is that it slowed down the maturation process and instead — like in ’09 we started to harvest at the end of August — in 2010 we started to harvest in mid-September.  So it got pushed back two weeks but [resulted in] a very good quality of grapes.

If people ask how to compare the ’10 to the ’09, Georges said that for him that the ’09 had a lot more black fruit in it; 2010 is more on the bright side, not as dark – raspberries and bright cherries.

AG: This year’s theme, reflected on the label and at arrival party festivities, is Nouveau Cirque.  How does this tie in with the Beaujolais Nouveau?

YB: We’re trying to create some excitement around it because at the end of the day Beaujolais Nouveau is really a celebration of the harvest.  You want to celebrate with your friends, you want to have fun, it’s not really only about the wine.

We’re also trying to reach a new group of consumers — the millennials, the 21 plus, young people — and we needed a theme that would relate to that, that they would enjoy.  And I think that the Cirque is very trendy, as you can tell from the Cirque du Soleil shows that are opening every day in what sounds like every city.  And then also I think with the Cirque, some performances can be seen as art forms, as culture, and I think in wine there is also culture and art forms.

Every year it gets harder to do something new.  We’ve done everything from the Concorde to Au Clair de la Lune, to double-decker busses, any means of transportation or legal means — I mean we haven’t done navy submarines yet but if we could have done that I’m sure we would have. Georges is very keen on making something special out of the arrival.

AG: For people who enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau, what other wines from Georges Duboeuf would you recommend?

YB: I guess Beaujolais Nouveau would be your entry way into the world of Beaujolais.  The region is divided in three categories, on three quality labels, and it’s geographically driven.  You have the Beaujolais area, then the Beaujolais Villages which is a step higher but probably the same price as Beaujolais Nouveau.  And this is what most people would drink outside of the last six weeks of the year.  And then for people who want to go a step higher, the Crus of Beaujolais seem to be extremely successful in the moment, especially the ’09 vintage.  Something like a Morgon, Juliénas, Moulin-à-Vent, those are single villages that produce really high quality wines.

Of course Beaujolais Nouveau is great with turkey, that’s probably one of the natural pairings.  But a Morgon, for people who want a little something extra, a bit more depth and character, would actually be a very nice wine also with turkey.

The 2010 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau costs around $10 a bottle.  It is imported by W.J. Deutsch and Sons.

Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 Est Arrive!

The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!

With all the pomp and circumstance usually reserved for New Year’s Eve, Georges Duboeuf unveiled the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau with celebrations around the world.

Facing high expectations after last year’s exceptional vintage, the team at Georges Duboeuf is pleased with the 2010 vintage, which returns to bright red fruit flavors.  In his September newsletter Georges wrote, “Last year . . . I told you that ‘2009 might be the best of the 9s’, well this year, I am tempted to tell you that ‘2010 might be the best of the 0s.'”

Beaujolais Nouveau comes from the Burgundy region of France.  It is made with 100% Gamay, a thin skinned grape that makes a red wine with lower tannin levels.  Following French law, Beaujolais grapes must be harvested by hand and grown on individual free standing vines.  The law also specifies the annual release date as the third Thursday in November.

According to Georges Duboeuf and its importer W.J. Deutsch & Sons, approximately one third of the entire crop of the Beaujolais region is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.  More than 35 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are expected to be consumed over the next few months.

This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau from Georges Duboeuf is deep carmine red in color, with aromas and flavors of jammy raspberries and strawberries, white peach and subtle notes of pink grapefruit.  The wine is fresh, dainty and round, with a touch of soft candied fruit on the finish.

The wine should be served slightly chilled (around 55 °F), which can be achieved by placing the bottle in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before it is served.

Beaujolais Nouveau pairs with a variety of dishes including turkey, making it ideal for Thanksgiving meals.

The 2010 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau costs around $10 a bottle.  It is 12.4% alcohol by volume.

Click to continue: An interview with Yann Bourigault, Export Director for North America at Les Vins Georges Duboeuf

Holiday Rum Cocktails

Spice up your seasonal celebrations with some holiday-inspired rum cocktails!

These recipes come from mixologists with Mount Gay Rum.  The distillery has been producing rum on Barbados since 1703, making it the oldest rum brand in the world.

Each cocktail calls for Mount Gay Eclipse, a medium-bodied rum that has notes of ripe banana and apricot, vanilla and a subtle smokiness from aging in Kentucky oak barrels.

Try these cocktails with Mount Gay Eclipse or your preferred aged rum.  They’re sure to put everyone in the spirit of the season!

Mount Gay Pumpkin Pie Frappe

2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
3 oz half-and-half
1 cup vanilla ice cream (slightly softened)
4 tsp pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
2 tsp Sugar in the Raw
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground allspice

Combine all of the above ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve in nicely chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Mount Gay Rum Spice Night

1½ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
1½ oz scented apple juice (see below)
½ oz fresh carrot juice
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
¼ oz maple syrup
1 tsp fresh ginger juice*

Place all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass. Garnish with whole allspice pods-they will float atop the cocktail.

*Make the scented apple juice the day before, by combining 3 to 4 whole allspice pods with one cracked cinnamon stick per 2 cups of apple juice. Refrigerate overnight.

Mount Gay Rum Punch

by Chester Browne

19 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
18 oz water
12 oz grenadine syrup
13 oz sugar syrup
4 oz lime juice
1 oz Angostura Bitters
1 tsp nutmeg

In a punch bowl, mix all ingredients together. Allow to rest for two hours, serve over ice and garnish with a cherry.

Mount Gay Hot Buttered Rum

1½ Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
1 lb light brown sugar
½ lb unsalted butter (softened)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl beat together softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight reusable container for up to a month, or place in your freezer until ready to use. In a pre-heated coffee mug combine 2 heaping tablespoons batter with 1½ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum. Top with boiling water and stir well to mix. Serve with a spoon.

A Preview of the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau

For the article after the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau click here

In accordance with French law, the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau will be released at one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of November — that’s this Thursday, the 18th.

Georges Duboeuf, who always unveils his Beaujolais Nouveau with festive events around the world, will be celebrating this year’s vintage with a “Nouveau Cirque” theme.  As explained by co-proprietor Franck Duboeuf, the contemporary circus spirit captures the excitement of the wine and the limitless possibilities for its enjoyment.  Says Franck, “Beaujolais Nouveau is a youthful wine with a fresh vibe.  It is an explosion of flavor on the palate with bright red fruits and rich, floral aromas.  It is sure to be a crowd pleaser!”

Click to read about the 2009 vintage and ’60s themed uncorking ceremony

Beaujolais Nouveau comes from the Burgundy region of France.  It is made with 100% Gamay, a thin skinned grape that makes a red wine with lower tannin levels.

Though we’ll have to wait until this Thursday for our first taste, Georges Duboeuf has shared his thoughts on the 2010 harvest as well as the aromas and flavors anticipated in this year’s wine.

Writes Georges Duboeuf about this year’s harvest:

“After the fine, hot, sunny days in late August and early September, we had some good rain on Tuesday 7th September, beginning in the early afternoon and continuing to fall for a good part of the night.  The volume of rainfall varied considerably from one area to another from north to south, with the south getting a lot more rain than the north.

“This rain was really good for the vines as they needed water — drought was ravaging certain plots and the grass-covered vines were starting to suffer.  The following morning, the winegrowers looked at their vines with broad grins on their faces — some of them could see that their vines were sparkling with freshness and that the grape bunches had more of a sheen and had got their spark back.

“Actually the vines had been thirsty and the rain brought a little extra roundness to the berries, which had now plumped up.  This will give some of the winegrowers that little extra they needed to get close to — or even achieve — a full yield.”

He also describes the initial impressions of the 2010 vintage:

“Last year, in our very first News from Beaujolais, I told you that ‘2009 might be the best of the 9s,’ well this year, I am tempted to tell you that ‘2010 might be the best of the 0s.’

“Indeed the 2000 vintage was very good quality and the unusual thing about it was that it was good right from the start and then developed well over time.  The thing I remember is that it was a harmonious, soft, elegant, silky, refined and above all very pleasant vintage.

“. . . What I can tell you right now is that the first few juices which are in the process of fermentation — and also the very first wines coming out of the press — have pleasantly surprised us with gorgeous fine crimson colours and their aromas are full of flowers, predominantly redcurrants and wild strawberries.

“In the mouth, the first seven wines we have tasted offered a fine structure, a crunchy, gourmet appearance with gentle tannins and a very flavoursome mouth.”

Beaujolais Nouveau pairs with a variety of foods from burgers to holiday turkey.  The 2010 George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau costs $10 to $11 a bottle.

Beaujolais News from Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, imported by W.J. Deutsch and Sons.  For more information on the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau click here.

AG Pick: Domaine La Lorentine 2005

Châteauneuf-du-Pape may be the first place that comes to mind when you think of wine produced in the south of France, yet it is just one of more than ten appellations in the Southern Rhône wine region.  Domaine la Lorentine comes from Lirac, the appellation that shares its eastern border with Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Though close proximity can mean a world of difference in taste, this red wine has a lot in common with its neighbors.  The family who in 2003 purchased the vineyards in Lirac has been producing wines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape using the same techniques for many years.  Domaine la Lorentine is also made with three of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s most common red wine varietals: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

With its blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 25% Mourvèdre, the 2005 Domaine la Lorentine is a well-balanced, medium to full-bodied mix of ripe fruit, earth and spice.

Deep magenta red in color, the wine has aromas of red and black fruits and smoke.  On the palate are flavors of ripe cherry, blackberry, plum and cassis that are rounded out by notes of dark chocolate, tobacco and black pepper.  The layered notes culminate in a lingering warm and round finish.  The wine is smooth and elegant with gentle tannins that give the wine a nice mouthfeel.

Pair the Domaine la Lorentine with lamb, roasted and grilled steak, hearty chicken and pork dishes and wild game meats.

A bottle of the Domaine la Lorentine 2005 costs $21.99.

14% alcohol by volume

Secrets of Holeman & Finch’s Famous Burger

In a city with so many burger restaurants that you could have a favorite burger for every night of the week, Holeman & Finch Public House still manages to stand out with its hard to get, off-the-menu item nicknamed the 10 o’clock burger.

H&F’s take on the cheeseburger has earned it a cult following in Atlanta and celebrity status nationwide. In fact, it was recently named Georgia’s Best Burger and America’s Best Late-Night Burger by the Food Network.

But what exactly makes H&F’s burger so special?

I along with a small group of burger fans had the chance to find out at a seminar with H&F’s Executive Sous Chef Jason Paolini at Taste of Atlanta. While demonstrating how each burger is made, Chef Paolini shared some secrets to why it’s the taste that prompts people to seek out the elusive dish.

Of course, you can’t ignore the fact that H&F’s burger got its reputation in part because it’s tough to order. Claiming one of the 24 double patty cheeseburgers is a fiercely competitive game. The burgers are made at precisely 10 pm every night except Sunday (when H&F is closed). Within minutes (and sometimes before the clock hits 10), the burgers have all been claimed.

Believe it or not, the 10 o’clock burger isn’t a gimmick to increase the restaurant’s popularity. It began as a special offering for people in the restaurant industry who would order the non-menu item after they finished work, around 10pm. Word about the burger apparently spread to customers, who started requesting them. Though the burger isn’t a secret anymore, it’s still not listed on the dinner menu.

As the burger’s popularity increased, so did the crazy things people did to get one. Chef Paolini shared some amusing stories of burger dedication, from one group staking out a table at 7pm and eating a leisurely 3 hour meal just so they could claim a burger, to a person offering $100 for the last burger of the night — ten times its normal price. Even on slower nights like Tuesdays or Wednesdays, there is not one burger that goes unclaimed.

So how did H&F decide to make 24 burgers?  It’s a pretty simple explanation — that’s the way the burgers fit on the grill. There’s room for exactly 12 burgers at a time, and H&F aims to make every burger identical and perfectly cooked.

Ignoring all the hype and issues that arise with supply and demand, the burger is pretty darn good — and we were reminded of that when we tasted the burger at the seminar. It’s partly due to the use of fresh ingredients, right down to the ketchup and mustard served with it (H&F makes its own). The beef and veggie toppings come mainly from farms in Georgia, with some from farms in Alabama and South Carolina.

The meat is about a 50/50 mix of chuck and brisket, a mix that gives a good balance of fat to meat (though the exact ratio is still a secret). According to Chef Paolini, Chef Linton Hopkins tried about 27 variations to create the best patty.

The meat is ground fresh every day to preserve its quality. It is passed through the grinder twice for a fine texture. Each patty is 4 oz. for a total of 8 oz. of meat for each burger.

The bun is made fresh daily by H&F’s own bakery. It’s a spongy, French bread-style bun that is shaped to fit each patty perfectly. The buns and other breads from H&F are available at farmers markets around Atlanta.

After sharing the secrets to the ideal patty and ideal bun, Chef Paolini revealed the ideal cheese. No, it’s not the finest cheddar from a farm in Georgia, or something imported from France — it’s Kraft American cheese! Something about the creamy taste and the way the orange squares melt make them the perfect addition to the burger.

Once the main ingredients were revealed, it was time to assemble the burger:

The bun is cut in half. The insides are spread with butter, then placed butter-side down on the grill to toast. The patties are salted and placed on the grill, then seared until golden brown in color. While still on the grill, one patty is topped with onions and both with a square of cheese. Then the burger is assembled — bun, patty with onions, patty, homemade bread and butter pickles, bun — and voilà! H&F’s perfect burger.

The burgers are served with crispy Idaho potato french fries and homemade ketchup and mustard on the side. Chef Paolini recommends pairing the burger with a nice cold beer.

With these tips you can try to create your own version of H&F’s burger at home, though I’ll leave it to the experts.

As we were enjoying the last bites of our delicious burgers, Chef Paolini left us with one final, perhaps not so closely guarded secret: if you’re dying to get the burger but don’t want to be squeezed out by the 10pm rush, come for lunch on Sunday. There’s no burger limit and you’re sure to leave satisfied.

Holeman & Finch Public House, 2277 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta.

AG Pick: Fleuve Blanc Vouvray 2005

A bottle of wine tells a story.  From the makeup of the soil and the year’s weather to the age of the vines, so much is captured in each glass.  The story is continued by the people who drink the wine, with the flavors and feelings they find in each sip.

The Fleuve Blanc Vouvray 2005 from Jean François Mérieau tells a story about climate and soil.  The cool climate of the Middle Loire Valley, just southwest of Paris, gives this white wine its sharp acidity.  Limestone in the soil adds mineral notes.  So too the name, meaning white river, is sure to evoke images of a peaceful setting.

Fleuve Blanc is 100% Chenin Blanc from the southern part of Vouvray.  Pale golden yellow in color, the wine has citrus and floral aromas.  These develop on the palate, with notes of lemon peel, grapefruit, lime, Granny Smith apple, white flowers and white pepper and a slight hint of white apricot and wildflower honey on the tangy, crisp finish.

Pair the Fleuve Blanc with raw oysters, fish, shellfish, light chicken dishes, salads, spicy Asian and stir-fry dishes and fresh and semi-soft cheeses.

A bottle of the Fleuve Blanc Vouvray 2005 costs $21.

12% alcohol by volume