North of the City of Lyon, in-between Burgundy and the Rhone Valley is the Province of Beaujolais, where Beaujolais wine is made. The large majority of wine here is red, and this region is symbolised by the Gamay grape. From an administrational point of view, Beaujolais is part of Burgundy, yet the differences in climate, grape types...
North of the City of Lyon, in-between Burgundy and the Rhone Valley is the Province of Beaujolais, where Beaujolais wine is made. The large majority of wine here is red, and this region is symbolised by the Gamay grape. From an administrational point of view, Beaujolais is part of Burgundy, yet the differences in climate, grape types, vinification and terroir, set this region well apart. Winemaking here is typically known for the long tradition of carbonic maceration, which when properly used, can intensify the fruitiness in wines, and add complexity.
During the 1980’s, Beaujolais reached the top end of the world wine market with Beaujolais nouveau. Increased carbonic maceration accelerates fermentation allowing the vintages’ wine to be sold before the end of the year. The third Thursday of November is officially when this wine can be retailed, offering economic advantages to wine growers.
As the wine became popular, more and more wine growers jumped on the bandwagon and converted to making Nouveau wine. Production of regular Beaujolais dropped more and more, eventually leading to a backlash in the late 1990s. Although easy-drinking, the wines do not age well and the Nouveau fad died off. Production still continued, creating large quantities of surplus wines that nobody wanted. The longer lasting effect was that consumers now only associated Beaujolais for its Nouveau wine.
The past 15 years have seen a slow improvement of reputation, with many wine growers concentrating on more complex full-bodied Gamays that differentiate from one another as terroir changes. This region has also some of Frances’ leading figures in Biodynamic Wine, as some of the first wineries to convert to this method are located here.
The northern part of the region has the best terroir for Gamay, producing wines with more character and aging potential. The soils have a large concentration of granite, and the vines are also exposed to elements of the cooler continental climate. Here 10 villages make up what is known as the Cru Beaujolais AOC classification:
Beaujolais-villages AOC is the intermediate classification spread out around 39 villages, also in the northern part of the region. The terroir of schist and granite hills dominate the landscape. The name of the village can be added to the end of the appellation if the grapes all come from one village, although, given the lack of international recognition, most wineries prefer not to do so. Usually, any white wine produced here is done so under the appellations of Mâconnais or Saint-Véran.
Most of the wine from the region is produced under the more generic appellation of AOC Beaujolais, which in some areas can produce wines that are quite concentrated, but most should be drunk within 2-4 years.
Great Beaujolais wine, Beaujolais appellation d’origine contrôlée, made from Gamay.Just as a Beaujolais should be! Fruity, light and easy drinking. Black cherries dominate on the nose and mouth, and are complemented by subtle fragrances of roast coffee and black pepper.