The Beaujolais region occupies 22,000 hectares between Mâcon and
Lyon, and covers 34 miles north to south. 70m litres of Beaujolais are
produced each year, two and a half times the entire red and white wine
production in the rest of Burgundy put together! More than half of this is sold
Nouveau, released on the 3rd Thursday of November after the
Beaujolais is almost exclusively planted with the Gamay grape, and produces
mostly red wines. A small amount of white Beaujolais is produced from Chardonnay (or Aligoté)
while a handful of Beaujolais rosés can also be found.
It is one of life's injustices that this beautiful wine region is forever
associated in most people's minds with Beaujolais Nouveau, a thin and dilute
wine that has more to do with marketing than actual substance. However there is
an Aladdin's horde of gloriously satisfying wines to be found amongst the 10
named village Crus that form the spiritual home of the fresh, fruity
From north to south, St Amour, Juliénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié (a
Cru since 1988), Brouilly and Côte
de Brouilly are situated along the 15 mile strip of granite hills to the north
of the region. They range from light, lively and fragrant to rich and velvety.
While most Beaujolais should be drunk as soon as possible the Crus are
infinitely more concentrated and have much more personality. They can be kept
for up to 10 years at which age the best examples resemble mature Pinot
At its best simple Beaujolais is fruity and eminently drinkable, especially
lightly chilled in summer. Most Beaujolais displays a pear-drop edge to its
soft red fruit, and often notes of banana and bubble gum too. These traits come
largely from the vinification method (semi-carbonic maceration) rather than the
Gamay grape itself, where a swift fermentation highlights the aromatics and
fruit while minimising the tannins. Amongst the top Crus, however, there
has been a return to more traditional Burgundian vinification methods and even
There are five classifications of Beaujolais: Beaujolais Nouveau,
Beaujolais, Beaujolais Supérieur, Beaujolais
Villages, and the 10 Beaujolais Crus. As with the rest of Burgundy, the
producer's name on the bottle is often the most important factor.
Recommended producers: André Brossette, François Calot, Alain Chatoux, Michel Chignard, André Colonge, Jean-Claude Desvignes, Dubost, Olivier Merlin, Alain Michaud.