It’s quite common for a lot of people to be snobbish about the Beaujolais terroir.
After all, how can you compare wines like Cote Rotie or Chassagne Montrachet to that banana juice called Beaujolais?
Well, you can’t.
But you can appreciate one of the ten crus in Beaujolais, their freshness, their lovely fresh red fruit aromas, and still be a bad ass.
The key to understanding Beaujolais is the grape. Whatever you’re drinking, a Beaujolais Villages, a Cru or a Beaujolais Nouveau, it will be a Gamay. Gamay is the only grape allowed to be grown in the area.
Gamay gives fragrant wines, full of raspberries and cherries aromas. Very light in tannins. It is perfectly suited to the region granite soils and Beaujolais terroir.
“Terroir” might be an unclear notion, but it is actually quite simple. Think of it as a combination of soils, climate and the work of the winemaker, that is “le terroir”.
You can find Gamay planted in the Loire Valley, in New Zealand, in Burgundy where it’s blended with Pinot Noir to make Bourgogne Passetougrain, but also in others part of the world where it‘s known as Gamay Noir.
Two massive appellations produce most production Beaujolais wine, Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages.
The first wine to be released every vintages is Beaujolais Nouveau and is usually made by a process called carbonic maceration. This technique gives the wine a character that can suggest kirsh, bananas with high acidity and low tannins.
Only the appellations Beaujolais and Beaujolais villages can sell their wines with the title “nouveau” or “primeur”.
Ten villages are considered as Crus. Regnié, Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly, Saint Amour, Chenas, Julienas, Fleurie, Morgon, Moulin a Vent and Chiroubles, these are the ten crus.
Among those different areas, Fleurie, Regnié and Brouilly give great wines.
|Regnié is at the heart of the great Beaujolais appellation, the vines spread over 620 hectares on a pink granite soil, and this gives land that is shallow, light and rich in mineral elements.|
|The vines are planted on slopes at an average altitude of 350 meters above sea level, they are mainly south-east facing.
Fleurie stands for “flowery”. It perfectly describes what the wine is: spring flowers, charming and elegant. Slightly larger than Regnié, 875 hectares on a granite soil, It is often considered as the Queen of Beaujolais due to their subtlety and elegance.
Brouilly, the largest Cru in Beaujolais, is situate around Mont Brouilly and contains within its boundaries the sub-district of Côte de Brouilly. The wines are noted for their aromas of blueberries, cherries, raspberries and currants.
These wines develop more complexity, are more balanced and can be aged. Also, they are more powerful, full-bodied and will improve in bottle.
A Cru from Beaujolais, made by a good wine maker is a fantastic wine despite all the clichés.
It is a real shame than Beaujolais has a bit of a reputation for being cheap and simple quality wine. Obviously, it is easy to blame the “Beaujolais Nouveau” which was a great success in the sixties, and which is still very popular in Japan or Germany.
But you also can blame a few “negociants” who based all their activity on the Beaujolais Nouveau when it maybe cleverer to use the dynamic of the Beaujolais Nouveau to promote the quality of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais.
Anyway, what is done is done and Beaujolais is now famous for the Beaujolais Nouveau.
Each year, on the third Thursday of November, “le vin nouveau” hits the High street.
Look out for aromas of banana, candy, kirsch, or bubble-gum, and you will have a laugh with your friends about how this wine reminds you of the candies your granny used to give you.
And have fun, because it’s not about the wine, it’s all about the moment.
Beaujolais Nouveau is designed to make you have a nice time, to have a glass of fruity wine with some salami and more important, to share it.
So please, have fun and don’t let the Japanese drink it all.