Beaujolais is a French wine region. It rests to the southeast of Burgundy. It’s known for its fruity and light red wines. Beaujolais has a long history in winemaking. Its wines are strongly linked to French cuisine.
In this article, we will discover the interesting past of Beaujolais and its wines.
Overview of the Beaujolais Wine Region
The Beaujolais wine region lies just south of Burgundy, France. Hills, granitic soil and schisty land make up the landscape. It’s famous for Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made from young Gamay grapes. The vineyards produce a variety of styles – from sparkling and dry to sweet desserts.
The region is divided into 14 subregions, each with its own terroir. Three regions exist: northern Beaujolais (St.-Amour, Juliénas and Chénas AOC’s); central Beaujolais (Moulin-A-Ventm Chiroublesm Fleurie and Regnié AOCs); and southern Beaujolais (Brouillym Côte d’Orm St.-Vérand Morgon AOCs).
Beaujolais Nouveau is popular for its freshness – released 6 weeks after harvest. Now, some producers release structured wines from older vintages, unfiltered and unrefined. This gives the wine an edge.
Beaujolais wines are usually light-bodied and low in alcohol. Some producers blend in other varietals such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay for complexity. So, explore different bottlings to find your favorite!
History of the Region
The Beaujolais region of France has a long history. People have visited it for centuries. It is renowned for its vineyards and wineries. Roman times saw the production of high quality wines here. Now, it’s home to world famous winemakers. Its wines are some of the most popular.
Let’s explore this culturally rich region and its long tradition of wine-making!
The Ancient History of Beaujolais
The Beaujolais region has a long history. It dates back to the first century BCE, when Roman writers praised the wines from the area. Its natural terrain of hills, forests, and vineyards made it popular. By the 15th century, the Dukes of Burgundy had taken control of wine production. They made France’s most sought-after vintages from towns like Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, and Juliénas.
Wine production is an important part of local culture. Traditional methods vary from village to village. For instance, locals used to bottle in earthenware containers called ‘goûteuses’. This produced a lighter-bodied wine known as ‘Beaujolais Villages’. Aging in oak barrels created fuller-bodied wines with intense aromas, like Brouilly.
In 1726, Louis XV declared that only select vineyards could make wines labeled ‘Beaujolais’. These grapes are now used to make flavors like Beaujolais Nouveau and Cru style Wines, such as Brouilly or Fleurie.
The Modern History of Beaujolais
The region’s modern history is mainly about quality-focused progress. For years, the region made wines of consistent standard but not remarkable. During 1960s and 70s, a new generation of winemakers tested techniques to better the quality. This included fermenting at lower temperatures and maturing in oak barrels, not cement tanks. In 1979, Beaujolais got the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation.
Since then, Beaujolais is renowned for its easy-drinking reds made from Gamay grapes. The star product is the Beaujolais Nouveau—a crisp and fruity red that comes out each year on the third Thursday in November (Beaujolais Day). Nowadays, other styles of wines from the region are popular, such as Beaujolais-Villages and the Crus sections like Brouilly or Morgon. These earthier reds are deeper and can age for longer periods than Nouveau, taking on more developed flavours. This success has kept innovation going in Beaujolais, helping the region become a respected wine-growing area.
Geography and Climate
Summers are hot and winters are cold. Rain is spread out across the year. The terrain is generally hilly. Vineyards often grow on slopes, which helps with soil drainage.
Geography of the Region
Beaujolais wine lies in Burgundy wine production, near Mâcon. The vineyards there rest on low limestone and sandstone hills made from glacial deposits. The region is 40 miles long and 10 miles wide. It is divided into two parts – Bas Beaujolais and Haut Beaujolais.
Bas Beaujolais is located between Lyon and Villefranche-sur-Saone. It produces Gamay Cru wines, as well as white wines with Chardonnay grapes.
Haut Beaujolais is south of Villefranche-sur-Saone and east of Roanne. It is home to ten villages that make award-winning red wines. These include Morgon, Fleurie, Julienas, Chenas, Regnié, and Moulin à Vent. This area is slightly cooler and has less rainfall than Bas Beaujolais, due to its elevation and facing east and southeast towards Lyon.
Climate of the Region
The Beaujolais wine region has a cool, rainy climate. This gives the grapes a long ripening time, creating Beaujolais wines with freshness and fruit-forward aromas.
The region is divided into two climates: the Cote d’Or (Golden Coast) and Saone et Loire. The Cote d’Or has a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The Saone et Loire has an oceanic climate due to wind patterns from nearby rivers and seas.
Vintage variation in Beaujolais depends on weather. Mild vintages bring perfumed aromas like rose petal. Strong vintages provide spicy notes such as clove or pepper. Generally, the wines are soft and approachable. They go well with classic French cuisine like quiches Lorraine or onion soup.
Grapes and Wines
The Beaujolais region of France is famed for its unique wines. These come from Gamay grapes which are grown only in this area. It is the source of many popular and distinctive wines.
This article will explore the grapes used to make Beaujolais wines. Plus, the types of wines this region is known for.
Grapes Grown in the Region
The region is famed for its Gamay production. It’s a major player in the wine world, offering delicious and flavorful wines. Plus, it has a rich history! The region climbs rolling hills and provides exceptional terroir for various grapes, such as Gamay Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Chasselas Fendant.
Gamay Noir has floral aromas, like violets and red berries. Plus, it has bitter cherry notes on the palate and pepper spice when aged in oak barrels. The wines have light to medium body with low tannins. Beaujolais Nouveau is made from younger vines (1-2 years) before being fully ripe. This yields fresh black fruit flavors instead of sugar sweetness, and easy drinking tannins.
Pinot Noir is more popular now, but it’s been grown in the area since long ago. Examples are Saint Amour in southern Beaujolais and Crane de Regnie. These Pinots tend to be medium-bodied with plummy fruits, spice elements and smokiness from oak aging. The variety’s flavors are dominated by red fruits, like raspberries or cranberries, and earthy spiciness. Aging intensifies velvety smoothness.
Chardonnay is widely grown in the region, showing potential from qualified producers. They blend good acidity creating vibrant citrusy umami and nutty deep aromas when introduced to oak barrel aging. The wines offer ripe Asian pears and white lilies, with robust minerality.
Chasselas Fendant (“Gendivin”) is widely grown. It has an aromatic nose with lime aromatics and subtle yellow apples notes. The variety combines freshness with medium body. It pairs well with oysters, seafood or Swiss dishes like fondue or tartiflette.
Wines Produced in the Region
Grapes and wines found in the Beaujolais wine region of France differ depending on geography and soil. Gamay is the most planted variety and is used to make Beaujolais Nouveau. This light, fruity red wine has notes of strawberries, cherries, and raspberries.
Winemakers in the region also craft vintage-dated wines that are full-bodied and feature blackberry, smoke, and dried herb flavors.
Beaujolais Villages produces higher quality than Beaujolais Nouveau. These wines have more complexity and aromatics, such as violet or clove. They are part of an AOC classification which requires winemakers to meet specific standards.
Chardonnay and Aligote grapes are grown for white wines. These wines are light-bodied, have prominent acidity and feature notes of lemons or limes.
Beaujolais is renowned for its scrumptious wines and majestic landscapes. Touring is a significant factor in the economy of this region. It offers visitors a chance to explore its culture, meals, and beautiful landscape.
In this section, we’ll delve into the different types of tourism that are available in the region. From ancient sites to activities and attractions, there’s something to suit everyone in Beaujolais.
Popular Attractions in the Region
Beaujolais is a region near Lyon in Burgundy, France. It’s famous for red wines and gorgeous views. Visitors to Beaujolais have lots of things to explore, such as traditional villages, old churches, vineyards and local wineries.
Popular attractions include:
-Château des Fleurs: This 16th-century castle on the Ouche River has been revived. Tourists can explore the castle and gardens, or take part in wine tasting.
-Basilica of La Tour Saint Michel: This 12th-century gothic church was built over an old roman temple. Legend says Mary Magdalene once lived here while hiding from Roman soldiers. Nowadays, guided tours are available.
-Village de Belleville-en Beaujolais: This small village is great for experiencing traditional French life. Here you can find bars, bakeries, souvenir shops, markets and locals!
-Domaine du Brulhois: This winery produces clean and bright wines with unique terroir characteristics. It’s a great place for those interested in Beaujolais wines!
Events and Festivals
The Beaujolais Wine Region is a unique and beautiful part of France. It’s home to family-friendly activities and exciting festivals. The Festivals of Beaujolais are lively in summer. Visitors can go charcuterie tasting and vineyard hopping.
Every June, winemakers compete in the Grape Harvest Festival. Awards are given out to the best wines. People can explore local restaurants that serve vintages from the regions. Traditional music from France plays. There are themed activities for families.
The Corton-Charlemagne Festival is held in August. Grapes are harvested for the Festival. They are served at wine bars and restaurants. Live music plays. Talks about wine production are given.
November Cuisine Weekend takes place over three days. Guests can immerse in French culture and taste Beaujolais food specialties. Traditional markets in the Saclay Range are visited. An informal wine tasting class is lead by experts. Tastings demos and master classes take place. Pair local wines with French dishes at local dining establishments.
Beaujolais wine region, situated in the north of Burgundy, is stunning and inspiring. It is famed for its light-bodied, fruity reds from the Gamay grape variety. Depending on the producer and vintage year, these wines can be dry or sweet, full-bodied or light-bodied. With such a wide selection and unique climate, it’s no wonder Beaujolais wines are so beloved among both wine experts and casual drinkers.
Do you seek an original wine experience with special flavors? Beaujolais is the place to explore! From its assorted varieties to its mischievous spirit, this legendary French winemaking area is bewitching. Drinking a bottle of Beaujolais can be a journey into the past or a peek into today’s creativity at some of France’s oldest wineries. What you decide to do is up to you – just make sure to savor the experience!