by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
June 27, 2007
Serendipitously, Union Square Cafe (USC) is presently celebrating cru Beaujolais with a wine list of eight of the crus (see list below). (Actually, they had a Moulin-à-Vent on the list, too, but it just sold out as the June issue was about to go live. To give you an idea of the popularity of Moulin, it was the first wine in the group to go and all twenty cases at that!) I was thrilled to discover this on a recent visit, since I am a big fan of cru Beaujolais. It is often my preferred wine — a bit chilled — to go with a fish dish in the summertime. I find these fragrant, low-in-tannin reds a perfect one-bottle-goes-with-all option. It is a pleasant sipping wine that will complement light estival fares, and even pairs well with a dark-chocolate dessert to finish a meal. Or, even better with a cheese platter for a savory palate!
In an exclusive interview for Cravings, I asked USC’s General Manager Chris Russell about the inspiration behind this unique program and his love of the crus.
What was the impetus for having a cru Beaujolais list?
CR: The inspiration was a love of cru Beaujolais. We wanted to feature it because we love drinking these wines ourselves.
What are some of your favorite crus?
CR: It depends on the day. This morning, I am in the mood for a St-Amour or Regnié. The delicacy and acidity really dance on the tongue.
For people completely unfamiliar with the crus, would you say that there is a distinct difference between the ten crus?
CR: Yes, but that distinction is noticeable primarily when the wines are tasted side by side. For example, Chiroubles, Morgon and Brouilly tend to show off their spice and richness more readily while Fleurie and Regnié deliver the essence of “fruitiness.”
What are some ideal food pairings with the crus?
CR: Part of why we chose Beaujolais is that they take the guesswork out of a lot of food-and-wine pairing. It’s all about the ease of this category of wine. They are like the color grey — it goes well with a lot of other colors.
That being said, we found a surprising match with the Chénas and our lamb chop. When the Chénas is tasted with the grilled chop, the wine imparts some spicy flavors that were not so apparent when sipped alone. In addition, the wine also revealed amazing rose scents alongside its fruit flavors when paired with the potato-gruyère gratin side. The lamb dish did a great job in deconstructing the cru Beaujolais wine!
USC Presents Cru Beaujolais!
Saint Amour 2006 Domaine Des Pierres
Juliénas 2005 L’Esprit du Marius Sangouard, Trénel
Chénas 2005 Domaine Des Pierres
Fleurie 2005 Clos des Moriers, Trénel
Chiroubles 2005 Domaine Cheysson
Morgon 2005 Côte du Py, Trénel
Regnié 2004 Cuvée des Braves, Domaine Joël Rochette
Brouilly 2005 Prestige de Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Alain Michaud
(Each bottle $43)