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Beaujolais – friend or foe?

November 20, 2019

Beaujolais, located South of Burgundy and North of the town of Lyon, is producing amazing wines based on Gamay. These expressions are so much more than the cheap and cheerful Beaujolais Nouveau that we all know and love..or hate…

Our Deputy Head Sommelier Emmanuel Cadieu visited a few producers at the very beginning of harvest:

Domaine des Marrans
Jean-Marc Burgaud
Domaine J. Chamonard
Jean Foillard
Anthony Thevenet

The region has been made famous when Beaujolais Nouveau became very popular in the 70-80s. The official release and celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau happens each year on the third Thursday of November, and is now celebrated all around the world.

The 10 Crus of Beaujolais are located on the Northern part of Beaujolais, mainly composed of rolling hills of granite. Beaujolais and Beaujolais Village expressions are mostly produced in the Southern half of Beaujolais, where the soil is richer and more sandy, producing lighter and less complex wines.

The vines from Beaujolais were originally planted by the Romans along their trading route along the Saone river and the climate is semi-continental, with a few Mediterranean influences, encompassing spring frost – on occasion, a challenge for the vineyard.

The region is known for their light style of wine; very crunchy and juicy with an elevated acidity, fine-grained tannins and low alcohol, making them very food friendly.
Traditionally, the wines are made using the whole cluster, and carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration.

In terms of location, Emmanuel mainly visited vineyards and wineries around Morton and Villié-Morgon.

Morgon is one of the most well-known Cru from Beaujolais. It produces more complex, richer and more structured styles of wines.
The soil there is called Roche Pourrie (rotten rock) and is based on decomposed granite. The hillside of Côte du Py produces the most powerful examples of Morgon and Gamay planted on blue granite is producing the best examples of wines from this vineyard. The region also produces a tiny amount of white wines based on Chardonnay and aligoté.

What is carbonic maceration?

Whole clusters of grapes are put in fermentation vessels, thus the bottom layer of grapes will be crushed under the weight of the bunches from the top.
The juice releasedduring this process starts to ferment, saturating in the meantime the vessel with carbon dioxide (by product of the alcoholic fermentation).
This will result in an intra cellular fermentation of the other grapes – it increases freshness and fruity flavours in the wine.

If you are not averse to Beaujolais, don’t be shy and drink it with pride. If you can’t bear it, you’re most certainly not alone, however if you’ve never tried it and don’t have the experience in making your own conclusion, join the debate and enjoy a glass at the Club.

We will be putting a special selection of wines from Beaujolais on the 3rd week of November, so make sure you have a taste, and let us know what you think…