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A Brilliant Beaujolais

Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week

2009 Villa Ponciago Fleurie la Réserve

Price: $20
 100 percent Gamay
 Slightly cool, with roast chicken

The pleasures of the outstanding 2009 vintage in Beaujolais show brilliantly in this debut wine from a producer new to the region. It’s lip-smackingly good, with a spicy, velvety richness, intense aromas of violets and peonies, and a tangy seductive charm. That’s a lot for a mere $20.

Tucked between renowned Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon, Fleurie has always been one of my favorites among the region’s 10 villages, or crus, where the best Beaujolais are produced. Maybe that’s because the wines are so noted for elegance, finesse and luscious silky textures. Beaujolais’ gamay grape flourishes on its stony, sandy soil composed of pink crystalline rock.

Villa Ponciago is the latest project of the Henriot family, known for their Champagne house of the same name and for revitalizing Burgundy’s Bouchard Père et Fils and Chablis’ William Fèvre. In spring 2008, they took over rundown historic estate Chateau Poncié and its neglected steep vineyards in Fleurie. They restored its Latin name, which dates from 949 AD, when the owner gave it to the Abbey of Cluny to save his soul, and then set about transforming its 120 acres with haute couture treatment. Treading by foot (!) is now the norm.

The estate made two Fleurie cuvées in 2009. La Réserve is a selection from the best parcels on their slopes bordering Moulin-à-Vent, one of the crus with the greatest ageability. Villa Ponciago’s Fleurie will be even better in a few years, but it’s so good now I doubt I’ll be able to keep hands off.

Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”