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The Charm of Beaujolais Wines

The revival of Beaujolais (and Beaujolais Nouveau)

Village in wine region of Beaujolais
© Andreas G. Karelias

Do you know that Morgon is a Beaujolais wine? That this region has specific terroirs close to Burgundy and that it was previously linked to the latter? Have you ever wandered around the lord of Beaujolais, the Moulin-à-vent, a historical monument dating from the 15th century? Find out everything you don't know about this beautiful region.

Too often discredited and above all wrongly discredited, Beaujolais is full of talented winegrowers who produce sublime wines. So here are some clichés to dismantle, as well as little tips to know to help you shine at dinner parties.


Three mistakes not to make

Bottle of Beaujolais Morgon

  • Thinking that all Beaujolais wines are unpalatable

  • Confusing Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau

  • Believing that Morgon or Saint-Amour are not Beaujolais wines

What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

It is a primeur, that is to say, a very young wine: the only wine that can be bottled in the year of the harvest. In fact, it is a wine that is made to be drunk relatively quickly (although many hold up well even after a year). It is not "armed for laying down" as they say, nor of great complexity, but its price is as light as its alcohol content and easy to drink. For the same price, you will most certainly find a better quality Beaujolais than a Burgundy.

Why does Beaujolais Nouveau have a bad reputation?

It has a bad reputation because it is simple and people often drink the wrong wines. But, when done well, Beaujolais Nouveau can be excellent in its style (young and fruity). Beaujolais Nouveau is produced by carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration, which means that fermentation starts inside the grapes (intra-cellular). In contrast, in a "classic" wine, it is the must (grape juice) that ferments. This method of vinification aims to bring out the taste and the juiciness of the fruit. We will return to this later, but it is very fashionable today, maceration, so new Beaujolais wines are trendy and in tune with the times. The main thing is not to expect the same thing from it as from an old vintage Bordeaux!

When and where is Beaujolais Nouveau celebrated?

This great festival takes place on the third Thursday of November. On this occasion, everywhere in France (: cafes, bars, wine shops, etc.), you can taste this primeur wine, as drinkable as it is gourmet, and without too much moderation.

Landscape vineyard in Beaujolais. Sunset

Beaujolais are also “Crus”!

Map of crus Beaujolais
@Atlante dei vine

Initially, Beaujolais was greater Burgundy, so there are some very nice terroirs in this area. Today, there are 12 appellations, each with their own particularities: Morgon, Moulin à Vent, Chénas, Brouilly, Chiroubles, St-Amour, Juliénas, Régnié, Fleurie, Côte-de-Brouilly, Beaujolais and Beaujolais village.

Overall, these are gourmet wines full of fruit, which can last over time. It is the word Beaujolais that is scary yet yields excellent wines! Moreover, some winegrowers in the region were the first to engage in natural wines, like the precursor Jules Chauvet. We can only approve of this approach.

A single grape variety for the entire vineyard (or almost)

In terms of grape varieties, it's easy, it's monovarietal (one grape variety per wine), and it's Gamay, a red-skinned grape. It represents 95% of the vines!

There are few white wines in Beaujolais, but all are produced in Chardonnay (well, well, just like Burgundy).

Vine and Grape Festival: after the harvest which usually takes place at the end of September and in which you can participate as a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to taste Belleville wine, often on the first weekend of October, like the harvest festival.

Bottle of Fleuri Gamay 2019

What to see in Beaujolais?

We highly recommend the magnificent panoramic terrace of Chiroubles, which is also the starting point for the 10 “Crus” trail! Indeed, at an altitude of 740 meters, you will have the privilege of having lunch, dinner, or simply having a drink while admiring the emblematic Geopark site and its hilly landscapes. In summer, this Beaujolais must-do offers "Beaujolez-vous" evenings every Wednesday. It combines concerts, a giant barbecue and tastings of Chiroubles vintage wines in a festive and friendly atmosphere.

people on a terrasse enjoying alfresco dining and wine tasting in Beaujolais wine region

From there, you can set off on a one-hour walk, accessible to all, with information on each of the Beaujolais “Crus”. Take the opportunity to visit the winegrowers and taste their wines.

Find more info and places to see Here

Lastly, Beaujolais is very close to Burgundy or the Rhône, so you can combine this visit with one or two others!

In short: Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that is said to be friendly, gurgling, easy to drink (from breakfast), and which we have every interest in celebrating! The Beaujolais “Crus” are more complex and rich wines, more reserved for occasions such as dinners with friends or lovers. But, of course, everyone does as they please...

Santé ! To your new love of Beaujolais,

Our sommelier's selection based on this article:

Bottle of Saint Amour, Beaujolais

Fabrice Larochette Clos du Chapitre Saint-Amour 2019

The Domaine Fabrice Larochette is located in the Mâconnais, in southern Burgundy, on the hillsides of Chaintré. It is certified HVE (High Environmental Value). Everything is vinified on the spot, in a functional vat room: vinification, labeling, sale at the cellar and storage of the wine-making equipment.

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