A beautiful and vast wine region south of Burgundy and just north of the Rhone valley. Although a sister region to Burgundy, the Beaujolais has its own distinctive granite (as opposed to limestone in Burgundy) soil and is almost exclusively composed of the Gamay grape, producing their particular style of wine.
The Beaujolais has a reputation as a fun and unpretentious wine, full of fresh fruit and candy, with low tanins, making it easy to drink and easy to pair with most dishes. It has become even more famous since the Beaujolais Nouveau branding and the euphoria around the launch each year…
Almost 80 millions bottles of AOC (controlled appellation) wine are produced each year of which 45 millions have the appellation AOC Beaujolais-Villages and which is of a slightly higher quality. Beaujolais also has 10 crus (or vintages) which represent the top of Beaujolais:
1400 acres of tanin-filled Beaujolais with good acidity which means that these can be cellared for some time and produce great “spicy” Beaujolais.
The most southern of the villages and a Beaujolais that sells particularly well, mainly due to its evocative name! Greedy, ripe fruit…but not much else…
With a heavy granite sub-soil, these Beaujolais are good for drinking when more mature. Less fruity and sometimes harsh to drink when young, they obtain a greater complexity and density with age.
This 1600 acre vineyard is probably the most charismatic and “least Beaujolais-like” of all the wines, less easy-drinking, less fruit and less purple-colour. Many are matured in oak barrels, can be cellared and are more like Pinot Noirs. Watch out for the over-heavy tanins.
It is probably one of the most elegant and aromatic Beaujolais wines. It’s also become one of the most expensive despite having over 2000 acres. Fortunately some of the “vignerons” have reasonable prices!
750 acres on one of the highest vineyards in Beaujolais. Although the wine is fairly light, it’s still good and is best drunk within 3 years to get the most from its fruit.
This is a big vineyard of over 2500 acres. The wine is quite different from the other due to its granity and slaty soil. Although a bit rustic in its youth, after 5 years it makes for excellent drinking.
A late-comer having received its “AOC” status in 1988. Still has something to prove and is often seen in the simple Beaujolais Villages appellation.
Brouilly & Côte de Brouilly
The most southern of the vineyards totalling 3000 acres for Brouilly and 750 for Côtes de Brouilly, whose quality is often slightly superior as the vineyards are on excellent slopes. In both cases, the Beaujolais’s are very fruity and are best enjoyed when young.