Why, yes, I will happily put red wine in an ice bucket. Especially if its hot outside and I am demanding a little more refreshment from my red wine. But not just any red wine will do. I am particularly fond of serving Beaujolais with a nice chill on it. Do I want it icy, approaching-the-freezing-point cold? Well, no, not that cold. But pleasantly chilled? Pass the bottle. And have it be full of Raisins Gaulois.
On a recent sponsored trip to Beaujolais (and beyond) with Wines of France, I had the honor to taste wines at Domaine Marcel Lapierre, where you'll find Raisins Gaulois. (The winery is now run by Marcel's son, Mathieu, after Marcel's death at a far-too-young age.) Not only will you find the lively, youthful Raisins Gaulois, but also the more sturdy and structured Morgon.
The Lapierre Morgon, pictured alongside Mathieu, is one of the iconic wines of Beaujolais, if not France and the entire wine world. Like all Red Beaujolais, it's made from the Gamay grape. But, unlike basic Beaujolais (and way unlike Beaujolais Nouveau), Morgon is one of the "Crus" (top vineyard sites) of Beaujolais. Cru Beaujolais are worthy of your cellar, and can age beautifully and easily for a decade-plus. And yet these wines still remain under-appreciated (not good) and a relative bargain (good). But where was I? Oh, yeah. Back to the ice bucket.
The Raisins Gaulois (roughly "French Grapes") has quite an accurate label. Drinking the wine is an experience akin to uncorking a bunch of fresh (fermented, alcoholic) grapes and squeezing them into your mouth. Lapierre just happens to put it in a bottle for you, which makes for much easier shipping and shelf-stocking. (Raisins Gaulois also comes in a 5L and 10L bag-in-box, which I would very much like to have in my refrigerator.) Chilled and consumed outdoors, maybe in a shady spot on a warm day, this Beaujolais would be a perfect pal for all the grilled or cured meats you could throw its way. And it would certainly be great with vegetables, too; kebab-style would be lovely. Raisins Gaulois is the perfect summer red wine.
One of the many things I like about Lapierre is that they can make a wine of serious distinction and contemplation like the Morgon (and the very special Cuvée Marcel Lapierre), as well as a wine with a sense of humor and a great sense of pleasure like Raisins Gaulois. These warm and varied sentiments, however, were balanced with a slight sense of disappointment over not getting a spin in the Morgon Wagon. Some people dream of rolling up to a big event, stepping out of a stretch limousine with tinted windows. Me? I'd rather pop out of the back of the Morgon Wagon, with a chilled 10L box of Raisins Gaulois, a stack of paper cups in hand to dole out glasses to the thirsty crowd.
More about Beaujolais, some apron modeling, and wine in general can be found at jamesonfink.com.