Beaujolais is calling
The region is located in east central France, south of Burgundian region Maconnais and North of the Rhone Valley. The grapes enjoy a temperate and semi continental climate. In the Northern part of the region where the crus are located the landscape is made up of gentle, rolling hills with granite and schist soils and some limestone. Often the wine label will not state “Beaujolais” when coming from the communes classified as “Crus” this can be quite confusing for new-comers. Keep an eye out for the following – St Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Brouilly and Cote de Brouilly.
The Southern part of the region is flat, the vines are planted on rich soils with clay often appearing. Wines produced here often fall under the regional appellation of “Beaujolais AC” and are often light, early drinking styles.
The grape responsible for Beaujolais, one of my favourite wines is Gamay. Naturally the wines tend to be light in tannin and colour with high acidity. Typically consumed youthful and chilled. There is a more serious side of this grape and wines coming from Morgon and Moulin a Vent can taste quite similar to Pinot with age.
Most know Beaujolais for its Nouveau style of wine which is often reminiscent of bananas and bubblegum. A thin light wine rushed through the winery to be released around the world on the 3rd Thursday of November. The commercialisation of Beaujolais began with the Nouveau trend in the 70s and 80s.
In its peak nearly half of all Beaujolais AC was sold this way. The region was pumping out a ridiculous amount and as a result quality quickly dropped.
Today it’s a worn out fad wine that only remains a wine of interest in a few cities across France. Many consumers aware of the Nouveau tend not to take this region too seriously or aren’t aware of the gems it offers. Beaujolais is a great region to look out for, offering excellent value for money, especially the cru wines.
There are a few people responsible for this shift, most notably Jules Chauvet who is often named the godfather of the natural wine movement (pictured below). He was a winemaker, gift taster and research chemist who focused on yeast, carbonic maceration and Malo Lactic fermentation . He studied nature in order to know what was needed to work with it rather than against it. He spoke out against the use of chemicals in the vineyard during a time when almost everyone was spraying or use additives in wine. Perhaps a traditionalist at heart who wanted to return to the old practises of viticulture and vinification. Old vines, no chemical sprays, harvesting late to obtain the ripest fruit, sorting grapes to only use the healthiest and minimal doses of sulphur dioxide and putting an end to chapitalisaiton is what he insisted on. He forever changed the path of the winemaker Marcel Lapiere who would go on to further inspire others.
If Chauvet is dubbed the god father of the natural wine movement, Lapiere is the father. At the time he was considered a rebel along wit