Beaujolais is located at the southern end of Burgundy, France. It produces more than three-quarters of the world’s Gamay wine. During the past number of years Beaujolais has improved beyond just producing Beaujolais Nouveau, fruity wines made specifically for early consumption, to now include high-quality yet affordable red wines.
It continues to be the most recognizable type of Beaujolais. It is bottled and appears on store shelves just a few weeks after being harvested. The phenomenon was started by vineyard workers as a way to celebrate the end of harvest. Gradually the wine began appearing in local cafés and eventually even in Paris. Today, tens of millions of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are distributed to more than 100 countries in time for its official release date of the third Thursday of November.
Beaujolais Nouveau is young and simple with a very low tannin content and high acidity.
This is the most basic level of Beaujolais. Wines are light bodied, with plenty of fresh fruit flavours. The majority of wine produced in this appellation is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.
Beaujolais Villages AOC
There are 38 designated villages in the region that can make Beaujolais Villages wines. The majority are red wine but there are also small amounts of white and rosé wines. Producers have the option of adding the name of the village to the label if the grapes come solely from a specific location, but most of the wines that fit the criteria are destined to be classified as Cru Beaujolais, leaving the villages themselves with little name recognition.
Beaujolais Villages wines are smooth and balanced, with ripe red and black fruit flavours.
Crus Beaujolais offer wine with unique character and history. Though highly regarded, wines from this quality level only account for 15 percent of the region’s total production.
Beaujolais wines are available in a variety of body types, depending on the cru from which they come.
Light and Perfumed
- Brouilly: The largest cru totaling 20 percent of the Beaujolais Cru area.
- Chiroubles: Home to vineyards located in the region’s highest altitudes.
Elegant and Medium-Bodied
- Fleurie: The most widely exported to Canada and the United States and a good vintage that is age-worthy up to 10 years.
- Saint-Amour: The most northerly cru which is known for its spicy character and ability to be aged up to 10 years in a good vintage.
- Côte de Brouilly: Sits within the Brouilly cru, with vineyards on higher slopes of the extinct Mont Brouilly volcano.
Rich and Full-Bodied
- Juliénas: Named after Julius Caesar and said to be one of the first wine producing areas of Beaujolais, dating back more than 2,000 years.
- Régnié: It is the newest cru, being recognized in 1988.
- Chénas: The smallest cru in Beaujolais (under one square mile of vineyards).
- Morgon: Earthy wines with a deep and rich Burgundian character that can age up to 20 years.
- Moulin-à-Vent: The most likely cru to use oak witch adds tannins and structure. Wines from this cru are the boldest in the region. In good vintages they can age up to 20 years.
Beaujolais Food Pairings
Beaujolais pairs well with traditional French foods such as Brie or Camembert cheese, or with a rich pâté. Given its low level of tannins, Beaujolais is also a great partner to lighter fare like grain salads or white fish.
Medium-bodied Beaujolais will pair well with a barbecued burger or a veggie-loaded pizza.