Beaujolais: French Wine Region

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Here we introduce you to another wine-producing region of France-the historical area of Beaujolais. The historical capital of this region is the place of Beaujeu. The Beaujolais is an AOC wine of France that is chiefly made using the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grape or simply the Gamay grape. This type of grape is characterized by its purple color and thin skin and few tannins. The grape is grown in the same province of Beaujolais.

The region of Beaujolais is situated at the north of Lyon and extends to parts of the north of Rhône département as well as some areas of the south of the Saône-et-Loire département or Burgundy. The region is internationally noted for its longstanding tradition of winemaking and for the especially favored Beaujolais nouveau.

The climate that is in the region is relatively warmer than Burgundy. And because of the climate difference between the regions, the Pinot Noir grape that normally thrives in Burgundy will not grow well in the Beaujolais region. The vineyards in this particular region are located at the bottom of the hillsides while the villages are located at the top.

This French wine is not labeled according to varietals. The whites from the region which only consist of approximately 1% of the production are essentially made with Chardonnay grapes. The Beaujolais has the propensity to be a much more light-bodied type of red wine with an especially relatively high amount of acidity.

The process by which the Beaujolais wines are produced is through a process called "carbonic maceration". This process sees the entire grape cluster being placed inside a tank while the carbon dioxide that comes from the fermentation process essentially peels off and breaks down the skin of the grape. The result of this process is a wine which retains its fruitiness without too much tannin.

Beaujolais wines are supposed to be consumed within the wine’s first three years. There are those other vintners who produce Beaujolais wine which are able to improve with age up to ten years. These are considered to be the best in the region.

Beaujolais wines have four different classifications which are:

Beaujolais Nouveau which are the first wines that come from the new vintage which is released on the 3rd Thursday of November after the harvest of the same year.

Beaujolais superior wines are the ones which are considerably more ripe. These types of wines are the ones which contain more alcohol than then Beaujolais Nouveau wines.

Beaujolais Villages are those types of wines which are made out of a mixture of different villages. This type of wine makes up 25% of the Beaujolais region’s production

Cru Beaujolais is the wine which comes from the best "crus" (vineyards) in and around the ten vineyards in the northern part of the region.

So there you have it! An introduction to the Beaujolais region and the different French wine classifications under the region. It is certainly a very historical region which traces its winemaking roots from way back. The Beaujolais certainly is able to hold its ground along with the rest of the best wines out there.