What makes Beaujolais so SPECIAL?
Beaujolais is the most densely planted major wine
region in the world with vineyards from 9000 to 13,000 vines per hectare.
Grapes have been grown here since Roman times before the birth of Christ.
Following the Romans other invaders included the Arabs tended the vines
producing wine from a variety of ancient grape vines.
The Gamay grape
originated in the village of Gamay, near Beaune in Burgundy in the 14th.
Century. While the growing of it was prohibited in Burgundy in 1395, the grape
found a home in Beaujolais where it thrived. Most vines are trained in the
traditional goblet style where the spurs of the vines are pushed upwards and
arranged in a circle. In recent times some vines, especially in the southern
part of the region are trained on wires using the guyot method which involves
taking a single or double cane and training it out horizontally.
The soils of Beaujolais divide the region into a
northern and southern half. The northern half of Beaujolais, where most of the
Cru Beaujolais communes are located, includes rolling hills of schist and
granite based soils with some limestone. On hillsides, most of the granite and
schist is found in the upper slopes with the lower slopes having more stone
and clay composition. The angle of the hillside vineyards in the north exposes
the grapes to more sunshine which leads to harvest at an early time than the
vineyards in the south. The southern half of the region, also known as the Bas
Beaujolais, has more flatter terrain with richer, sandstone and clay based
soils with some limestone patches. The Gamay grape fares differently in both
regions-producing more structured, complex wines in the north and more
lighter, fruity wines in the south
The climate of Beaujolais is semi-continental with
some temperate influences. The close proximately of the Mediterranean Sea does
impart some Mediterranean influence on the climate. Being further south the
region is overall, warmer than Burgundy with vintages more consistently
ripening the grapes fully however a common viticultural hazard is spring time
There are twelve main appellations of Beaujolais wines
covering the production of more than 96 villages in the Beaujolais region.
They were originally established in 1936, with additional crus being promoted
in 1938 and 1946, plus Régnié in 1988. About half of all Beaujolais wine is
sold under the basic Beaujolais AOC designation.
Principal BEAUJOLAIS Grape Varieties
Gamay grapes tend to produce wines that have
bluish-deep red colour with low acidity, aromas of ripe red berry
fruits, moderate tannins and medium body. Selected clones have improved
and very desireable characteristics that reflect the terrior.
Chardonnay vines that were planted prior to 2004 are permitted in wine
production but the entire grape variety is being phased out of the region by 2024. According to AOC regulation,
up to 15% of white wine grape varieties can be included in all Beaujolais red wines.
Pinot noir, which has very small plantings, is also permitted but that grape is being phased out by 2015
as Beaujolais winemakers continued to focus on the Gamay grape.
FACTS ON GRAPE GROWING & WINE-MAKING
Name:Appellations - 12 in
3 groupings viz. Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais Cru (10
Location:an area south of
Maconnais being 55 kms north to south & 25kms east to west bounded by the
Saone in the east
Vineyards:3,600 vineyards with 19 cooperatives representing 50% & 150 negociants
Places: 147 villages
Size of the vineyards:
22,500 ha (55,800 acres)av. 7 ha
volume:1,350,000 hectolitres producing 190 million bottles(90% red
Soil: From clay & sand with limestone to andesite granite in central hilly areas
sub-continental, with cold winters, wet springs, hot,dry summers and Autumns
extending to an "Indian summer".
Appellation Beaujolais Villages Controlée - 25% production from 6000 ha
Controlée- 50% production from 10,000 ha
appellation stretches over the southern part and up the eastern border
Mainly north of Beaujolais appellation and surrounding the central crus.
Appellation Beaujolais Cru
Controlée - 25% production from 6,500 ha
/central areas with 10 seperate appellations in the northern half of the
region. viz. Saint-Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Moulin a Vent, Fleurie,
Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Cote de Brouilly, Brouilly.
BEAUJOLAIS WINE TYPES - Appellation
Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the most famous red wine in the world. A light fruity wine the wines are
drunk as young as possible, when they are at their freshest and fruitiest. About 1/3 of all Beaujolais
wine is sold as Beaujolas Nouveau and while it has been produced from the 19th century the marketing name
and success can be largely attributed to George Duboeuf. Beaujolais Nouveau is often packaged in colourful
bottles that play into the festival marketing of the wine. Any Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages AOC
vineyard can produce Beaujolais Nouveau and the release date worldwide is third Thursday of November -
"Beaujolais Nouveau Day".
Beaujolais AOC is the most extended appellation covering 60 villages, and refers to all basic Beaujolais wines.
It implies a minimum alcohol of just 9%; Beaujolais Supérieur implies wine with more than 10% alcohol. A large
portion of the wine produced under this appellation is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau. The maximum yield for this
AOC is 55 hl/ha Annually, this appellation averages around 75 millions bottles a year in production.
The intermediate category in terms of classification, covers 39 communes/villages in the
Haut Beaujolais, the northern part of the region accounting for a quarter of production. Some is sold as
Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, but it is not common. The terrain of this region is hillier with more schist and granite
soil composition than what is found in the regions of the Beaujolais AOC and the wine has the potential to be of higher quality.
The highest category of classification in Beaujolais, account for the production within ten
villages/areas in the northern part of the region. In Beaujolais the term "cru" refers to entire wine producing
area rather than an individual vineyard. Seven of the Crus relate to actual villages while Brouilly and Côte de
Brouilly refer to the vineyards areas around Mont Brouilly. The cru villages are not allowed to produce Nouveau.
The maximum yields for Cru Beaujolais wine is 48 hl/ha. Their wines can be more full-bodied, darker in colour, a
nd significantly longer-lived. From north to south the Beaujolais crus are- Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas,
Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.
|Beaujolais Blanc (Dry
A small amount of white wine (2%) made from Chardonnay or Aligote is grown in the region
and used to produce Beaujolais Blanc or Beaujolais-Villages Blanc.
Beaujolais Rosé made from Gamay is permitted in the Beaujolais AOC but is rarely produced.
|Beaujolais Blanc de
While only a small part of the Beaujolais production, the sparkling Blanc de Blancs comprise largely
chardonnay grapes and are produced by "methode traditionnelle" as in Champagne. Can be found throughout the region and
worth seeking out as they make a delightful aperitif. Sparkling Rose style is also available.