We must be doubly-vigilant when we hunt outside our traditional territory as we are less familiar with the lie of the land and our exposure to negative criticism is more acute. It is therefore gratifying to see that Arnaud Aucoeur's beguiling Beaujolais Villages 'Vieilles Vignes' 2013 is enjoying a plethora of positive press at the time of writing. In her round-up of the best festive drinks in The Times, Jane MacQuitty napped it as her 'Star Buy' describing it as: "A juicy, easy-glugging, silky Beaujolais with crunchy, vibrant, sweet cherry and raspberry fruit." While in The Observer the previous week David Williams noted that: "Beaujolais is sometimes lumped in with Burgundy geographically speaking, but it's a vinous world apart. Gamay replaces Pinot Noir, and a sappy, hedgerow fruitiness takes precedence over Pinot's gamey forest-floor notes. Arnaud Aucoeur's 'Vieilles Vignes' is a particularly joyful expression, and with its vivid and succulent fruit and svelte tannin, is made for a minute-steak." Early reports indicate that the 2014 vintage was an absolute hum-dinger in Beaujolais so we're optimistic that our own enthusiasm for Arnaud's carefully-crafted wines is going to spill out to a wider audience.
Arnaud's chais and cellars are located in the village of Villé-Morgon in the hilly heartland of Beaujolais, so it is no surprise that he also produces an estimable Morgon, which hails from mature root-stock on the famous Côtes du Py escarpment. It enjoys the house signature of sleek fruit and elegance but is deeper, darker, more structured and age-worthy. A fringe benefit of our tracking down Arnaud in 2011 was the discovery of his delicious Beaujolais blanc – a relative rarity in this celebrated red wine region.