Beaujolais gets a bad rap, and the Wine Curmudgeon has rapped it, too. Most of us only know Beaujolais from its nouveau release, which comes out every November and too often smells like over-ripe bananas.
But Beaujolais can produce well-made, inexpensive wine. (Quickly: Beaujolais is the region in France where the wine is from, which is south of Burgundy, and it's made with the gamay grape.) The Villages is the most common kind of Beaujolais, and it's a softer, fruity wine that can even be chilled. It's a dry wine, but don't expect much in the way of tannins or any other manly, red wine characteristics. As such, it's a fine red wine for summer.
What's interesting about this Duboeuf (about $10, purchased) is that this it's not the current vintage, but last year's. However, thanks to the recession and the weak dollar, many retailers still have the 2008 in stock, which they have marked down to move out. This is our great good fortune, because a year of bottle age has made it a much more interesting wine. The 2008 isn't quite as fruity, and has developed a little more red wine character. It still isn't cabernet sauvignon, but it's easily one of the best Beaujolais I've had in years. It may not be as easy to find as the 2009, but it's worth the effort.