The Beaujolais wine region is a small 55 km belt of vineyards nestled between Burgundy to the North and the city of Lyon to the South. This small and fascinating region has all the attributes which go into producing stunning, complex and elegant wines to match those of Burgundy, its neighbour. A single varietal, Gamay, is used to express the rich diversity of terroirs* this region has to offer.
History of Beaujolais
Beaujolais has a history dating back to Roman times. The region’s ideal location, close to the Saône and Rhône Rivers as well as to the city of Lyon, helped its development over the years. However, it was in the 17th century that the region first increased its production as it began supplying wine to the insatiable appetite of the Lyon Bourgeoisie.
Since then, Beaujolais has grown and has now acquired global awareness through both its ups and downs. It is only recently, though, that the region has committed itself to increasing the quality of its wines to meet the full extent of its natural potential. This is a great time to witness such an evolution and to buy these wines at what remains great value for money. What’s particularly exciting is that they stand to get even better over the coming years.
Beaujolais Climate & Soil Composition
The vineyards of Beaujolais are spread across a marvellous hilly landscape facing from northeast to southwest, which exposes the grapes to a constant golden sun. This gorgeous sunlight is not to be missed as it helps to ripen the grapes and the slopes allow them to capture the complexity within the soils, which adds to their natural variety. At an average height of 300 meters above sea level and rising to 1,000 meters, the vineyards benefit from soil types that vary from granite and schist in the north to clay and marl in the south.
The grape varietal most widely used in Beaujolais is called Gamay Noir and it has white juice. It produces wines of soft tannins and high acidity that are delightful to drink. Beaujolais produces some Chardonnay, mostly from the south.
The quality of the wines is classified in three different appellations. Within the “Beaujolais” appellation the grapes can come from anywhere in the region (although mostly from the south where the land is flat and the soil is less complex). These wines are usually soft and fruity with an interesting complexity.
The second step of the classification is the “Beaujolais-Village” appellation. These grapes come from an identified 30 official villages which are considered to produce site specific wines of greater complexity.
Finally, the most qualitative wines of the region are classified as Crus, named after their village of origin. Only 10 villages are awarded this highest distinction, located solely in the north of the region and planted on slopes. The wines here are deep in flavour, complex, layered and can age for decades. These Cru wines are red wines only made from Gamay Noir.
From North to South, below is the list of the Crus of Beaujolais:
Côte de Brouilly
All these Crus have a distinctive taste which is testament to the diversity of this beautiful wine region.
* Terroir is the specific combination of location, vineyard, climate and people that create a wine. Accordingly, different terroirs produce different wines.