What is Beaujolais Wine?
The sister of Burgundy and a bright red jewel among French Appellations, Beaujolais is a famed wine area that features the use of the Gamay grape varietal.
Keep reading to learn more about its history, location on the map, geography, and grades available today.
Where Is Beaujolais?
This region is geographically located to the south of Burgundy. It’s just about nine miles wide and 34 miles long with cultivation over 55,000 acres and production of 13 million wine cases every year.
From snow to sandy soil and hilly granites, this is a diverse wine region boasting young and rejuvenating wines. Unlike Burgundy, wine from this region is made in small batches. The climate in the area is temperate with the occasional Mediterranean snow.
The History Of Beaujolais
Take a look at the timeline of the Beaujolais wine region and its wine production below.
The Roman army planted vines across the Alps during the 1st Century BC apart from constructing prominent temples and aqueducts.
From the 7th century until the Middle Ages, Catholic monks of the Order of Saint Benedict conducted the majority of the winemaking here.
Lords Of Beaujeu
The Gamay grape was banned due to its inferior quality to Pinot Noir in the Duchy of Burgundy by the Lords of Beaujeu. That’s why Beaujolais took up the production of this unpopular grape varietal even after being conquered by Bourbonnais in the 15th century.
In addition to higher taxes for outside wines, this French wine was popularized after the completion of the railroad in the 19th Century. The same is how it opened up to bistros and sommeliers around Europe soon thereafter.
It was in the 1980s that a lighter-bodied wine from this region became popular, thanks to carbonic maceration invented by Louis Pasteur. Called Beaujolais Nouveau, this very young wine is fermented for just a few weeks after harvest before being made available for sale the third Thursday every November.
Authorities have upped the grading with appellations for this wine to put a stop to wastage. Today wine from this special French region can be bought for around $25 a bottle from the best red wine club plans.
Three Classifications Of Beaujolais Wine
Consisting of 12 appellations, the region is divided into the Northern Haut and Southern Bas-Beaujolais. Take a look at the three classifications to identify the quality and profile of these wines.
The biggest area of the region’s appellation with over 96 villages that make wine, the AOP wine region is geographically situated in the south. It produces smooth wines with refreshing flavors.
If you do a wine tasting, you’ll notice a wide variety of flavors from the varying ripening of grapes unique to this region.
Beaujolais Villages AOP
You might also come across over 30 names of villages on labels that are superlative to AOP Beaujolais. They have a deeper color with more minerality owing to their granite or schist geography.
10 Beaujolais Crus
The northern part is the jewel crown of this French wine region and it’s divided into ten Crus as shown below.
- Chiroubles is a cool region with light wines
- Saint-Amour has over 12 special ‘climats’
- Chénas is known for its woody tastes from neighboring oak forests
- Juliénas produces wines from an Ancient vineyard named after Julius Caesar
- Moulin-à-Vent is the ‘Emperor of Beaujolais’ with its granite and soft quartz geography
- Régnié is a young Cru with vineyards on the hillside
- Fleurie is known as the ‘Empress of Beaujolais’ for its aromatic wines
- Brouilly is situated below the hilltop of neighboring Côte de Brouilly on flatlands
- Côte de Brouilly features vineyards on volcanic slopes
- Morgon features six “climats”
The Fruity Taste
One of the best wine club gifts given its unique production, wines from this region feature a shorter life and quicker aging potential than Pinot Noir. Moreover, it takes as little as four days to make this wine.
The fruitiness of this wine comes from the unique winemaking process of carbonic maceration where the Gamay grapes undergo intracellular fermentation that lacks oxygen. The drastic change and introduction of fruity aromas are due to the natural yeast that produces the lowest tannins ever seen in red wines.
Take a closer look at the characteristics of Beaujolais wine below.
- Flavors of raspberry, black currant, cranberry, mushroom, oak, and bubblegum
- High acidity
- Low amount of tannins
- Alcohol by volume ranges from 10% to 13%
Mainly made from Gamay and a cross called Gamay Noir (Pinot Noir + Gouais), Beaujolais has a long and rich history spanning from the Romans to Benedictine monks up until the introduction of scientific winemaking techniques. Low tannins and high acidity are the main characteristics that add to the fruity taste of this gorgeous vine.
To start tasting, pick a Beaujolais from popular wine club with good plans and enjoy it chilled from 54 to 580F.