For North American wine drinkers, Beaujolais is like gold jewellery. While it is always stunning, for whatever reason it keeps coming in and out of fashion … guided by the tastes of the day.
There is a reason it is among France’s most respected wine regions. Beaujolais is renowned for its overtly fruity aromatics. It is bright and easy to drink. So while luscious fruity bottles from South America and California may be the wine du jour … let’s consider what is is about Beaujolais that keeps us coming back.
What makes Beaujolais “Formidable!”
The district of Beaujolais lies between Burgundy and the Rhone Valley.
It spans a mere 45 kilometres in length.
99% of her wines are created with the Gamay grape.
These grapes fall into four quality designations:
- Beaujolais Nouveau
- Beaujolais Villages
- Cru Beaujolais
Nouveau is produced to celebrate the new harvest while the premium wines are still under production. It is released annually on the third Thursday of November. This wine is meant for immediate drinking, and has become so popular that is now represents 50% of the region’s production. After hand harvesting in September the wine undergoes an anaerobic (non-oxidative) fermentation. With little to no exposure to oxygen the wines retain an abundant aromatic quality. Tasters describe a distinct candied fruit personality. Best served chilled.
Great for … Casual lunches, picnics, and gatherings. Grab a cutting board, a baguette, a few of your favourite artisan cheeses and cured meats. Pate and terrine are an absolute must!
Beaujolais & Beaujolais Villages
Fruit is sourced from the greater Beaujolais area and the Villages within the district. Typically these wines will be created in a partial anaerobic environment allowing some oxygen interaction. While still expressing a classic bright-red, strawberry candy note, these wines feel more “dressed up” and are usually served chilled.
Great for … Quiet winter dinners. Pairs perfectly with glazed ham to create a sweet and savoury combo. Beaujolais partners nicely with a hearty ragu on a chilly evening.
The “Growths” or Crus of Beaujolais represent the best wines that Beaujolais has to offer. Fruit sourced from here creates a darker, much longer living wine. The best stand up to some of the great Pinot Noirs of Burgundy. Higher in tannin and well layered, these are much more complex wines worthy of a little rest time in the bottle and keen attention once it is poured in your glass. Compared to Burgundy, the Crus of Beaujolais are relatively inexpensive and offer incredible value. When you uncork a bottle of Cru Beaujolais, stop and smell the roses and appreciate what the wine has to offer.
Great for: A candlelight dinner featuring a rack of lamb or duck. Simply superb alongside fine pate, terrines, foie gras, artisan cured meats, sausage, and a selection of your favourite cheese.