Okay!! I get it! I get it! You don’t like Beaujolais! And yet, it would take so little to change your mind about this region. An article on the subject, for example? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Good idea! So let’s go, be ready to change your mind about this region, too often denigrated!
We have to start there! That seems essential to me. Beaujolais Nouveau” alone does not sum up the entire region, all its producers or all the gamays in France and elsewhere. To be even more precise, the “bad” Beaujolais nouveau sums up even less the whole appellation.
However, I cannot completely contradict this prejudice, because we have all, at least once, tasted a new Beaujolais acid and without any taste interest. But first, I invite you to read (if you haven’t already done so) my November 2017 article on Beaujolais Nouveau. It will help you better understand why it is so easy to miss a new (or early) wine.
BEAUJOLAIS AT ALL!
Map of Beaujolais appellations
For decades, Beaujolais was integrated into Burgundy like a little brother. From my point of view, this separation allowed the Beaujolais people to take off. This is also leading more and more Beaujolais wine producers to have their wines and terroirs recognised: the aim being to create a Premier Cru PDO for certain villages and/or parcels in the appellation.
WHAT DID WE DO TO THE GAMAY?
France has a problem with this red grape variety and this is not new ! Already in 1395,Phillippe le Hardi, Duke of Burgundy, took the radical step, by ordinance, to ban the “disloyal gamay” throughout Burgundy.
« un très-mauvaiz et très-desloyaulx plant nomméz Gaamez, duquel mauvaiz plan vient très-grant habondonce de vins… Et lequel vin de Gaamez est de tel nature qu’il est moult nuysible a creature humaine, mesmement que plusieurs, qui au temps passé en ont usé, en ont esté infestés de griesz maladies… car le dit vin qui est yssuz du dit plant, de sa dite nature, est plein de très-grant et horrible amertume… Pourquoi nous… vous mandons… sollempnellement à touz cilz qui ont les diz plans de vigne des diz Gaamez, que yceulx coppent ou fassent copper en quelque part qu’ilz soient en nostre dit pais dedens cing mois »
And for those of you who misread 14th century French, this ordinance orders that Gamay be cut within 5 months because this grape variety produces only too much wine and a horrible bitterness.
Since then, Burgundy has been represented by only one grape variety: Pinot Noir.
PARLONS CRU !
And yes because even if there are very good wines in the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages appellations, my real motivation to write this article comes from the Beaujolais crus.
The Beaujolais wines are the following:
Juliénas, Saint Amour, Chenas, Moulin à Vent, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly and Brouilly.
And for ease of understanding, I propose you to classify them into three categories:
Julienas, Fleurie, Chiroubles and Régnié. The wines of these appellations will be fine and very elegant with notes of small red fruits: blackcurrant, redcurrant, raspberry but you can also find more floral aromas: peony or violet.
Brouilly, Saint Amour and Côte de Brouilly keep some finesse but these wines will be a little more powerful with aromas of blackberries, red fruits more stewed according to the maceration time.
Morgon, Chenas and Moulin à Vent are really special. These are very great, powerful and concentrated wines. They are also excellent wines to keep. Some producers create wines capable of withstanding time for 30 to 40 years. And for tasting it on a selection of parcels from Moulin à Vent, the result was really amazing!
A BEAUTIFUL REGION!
Attention this section is extremely personal and subjective. Without wanting to pass for the tourist office of the region and the vineyard, this small place of the world has something magic. No matter the season or the weather, the few days I spent there always bring me a deep serenity. And even more so when the day is punctuated by tastings, sometimes in a century-old house, sometimes with a young producer eager for innovation and precise taste for these wines.
“I DON’T LIKE BEAUJOLAIS… BUT I LOVE MORGON!”
You have no idea how many times I’ve had this exchange with my clients! The “Morgon” can be replaced by almost all the Beaujolais vintages, with Moulin-à-Vent, Saint-Amour and Chenas in the lead. It’s a bit like saying, “I don’t like vegetables but I love cucumbers and carrots! ».
Unbelievable but true! Not all wines are good!
Some Beaujolais wines are not good, even worse, but we must not generalize and miss the wonders that Gamay can offer you.
THERE’S ONLY RED!
WRONG! But the whites as well as the rosés of Beaujolais do not benefit from a particular appellation. In fact, you will find really fresh and pleasant wines. The whites in particular, made with 100% Chardonnay, give floral and fruity white wines.
I find the rosés a little more ordinary but I am convinced that one day I will taste the rosé of Beaujolais which will make me change my mind.
AND SO IT’S OVER!
Our little tour of Beaujolais is coming to an end. Ask me your questions in comment of the article, I will be pleased to answer them.
In any case, I hope that you will go to your wine shop this weekend to test the Beaujolais wines. The Chenas is a little hard to find but it’s really my favorite.
TIP The Morgon and the Chenas are doing wonders on your first weekend barbecues in May!
See you soon,