GRAPEVINE

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The Independent Culture
LE NOUVEAU should arrive this week, and wine pundits will have picked out the best. But it's the best of a bunch that would have tasted far better if left much longer in the tank to settle down and gather its flavours together before bottling. Even at its best, wine released in November tastes a bit raw. It has been rushed through its infancy and so it can't help being gawky.

The weather was hot for the 1995 vintage up to the last minute, then rain struck, diluting those grapes not already picked. George Duboeuf always makes some of the best Beaujolais, as well as one of the best nouveaux. "Much skill and technical expertise were required this year," he explains, "to extract aroma and fruit from grapes more inclined to produce highly coloured, powerful, even tannic wines."

There are plenty of good wines, according to Roger Harris, who sells a wide range of good Beaujolais by the case from his Norfolk farm. "But nouveau is the obvious way for a French merchant or grower to get rid of poor wine. This is why Beaujolais nouveau has dropped in popularity in Britain - it is very small compared with what it used to be. It's used as a dumping ground for all the rubbish. ."

For consolation and contrast, seek out 1993 Morgon les Charmes, Domaine Briss-on (pounds 6.79 Co-op), a delicious example of what unhurried Beaujolais should be - rich, ripe, soft and cherry-flavoured.

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