The wine takes its name from the historical
Beaujolais province and wine
producing region. It is located north of Lyon, and covers parts of the
north of the Rhône département (Rhône-Alpes) and parts of the south of the
Saône-et-Loire département ( ). While administratively
considered part of the Burgundy Burgundy wine region, the climate is closer to the
Rhône and the wine is unique enough to be considered separately from and Rhône. The region is
known internationally for its long tradition of winemaking, uniquely emphasized
the use of carbonic maceration, and more recently for the popular Burgundy Beaujolais nouveau.
Gamay noir is now known to be a cross of Pinot noir and the ancient white variety Gouais, the latter a Central European variety that was probably introduced to northeastern
by the Romans. The grape
brought relief to the village growers following the decline of the Black Death.
In contrast to the Pinot Noir variety, Gamay ripened two weeks earlier and was
less difficult to cultivate. It also produced a strong, fruitier wine in a much
larger abundance. In July 1395, the Duke of Burgundy Philippe the Bold outlawed
the cultivation of Gamay as being "a very bad and disloyal plant",
due in part to the variety occupying land that could be used for the more
"elegant" Pinot Noir. Sixty years later, Philippe the Good, issued
another edict against Gamay in which he stated the reasoning for the ban is
that "The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in
Christendom. We will maintain our reputation". The edicts had the effect
of pushing Gamay plantings southward, out of the main region of France and into the granite based
soils of Burgundy Beaujolais where the grape thrived.
The ten Beaujolais Crus differ in character. The following three crus produce the lightest bodied Cru Beaujolais and are typically meant to be consumed within three years of the vintage.
Brouilly - The largest Cru in
Beaujolais, situated around Mont
Brouilly and contains within its boundaries the . The wines are noted for
their aromas of blueberries, cherries, raspberries and currants. Along with
Côte de Brouilly, this is the only Cru Beaujolais region that permits grapes
other than Gamay to be produced in the area with vineyards growing Chardonnay,
Aligote and Melon de Bourgogne as well. sub-district of Côte de Brouilly
Régnié - The most recently recognized Cru, graduating from a Beaujolais-Villages area to Cru Beaujolais in 1988. One of the more fuller bodied crus in this category. It is noted for its redcurrant and raspberry flavors. Local lore in the region states that this Cru was the site of the first vineyards planted in
Beaujolais by the Romans.
Chiroubles - This cru has vineyards at some of the highest altitudes among the Cru Beaujolais. Chiroubles cru are noted for their delicate perfume that often includes aromas of violets.
The next three crus produce more medium bodied Cru Beaujolais that Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan recommend needs at least a year aging in the bottle and to be consumed within four years of the vintage.
Côte de Brouilly - Located on the higher slopes of the extinct volcano Mont Brouilly within the Brouilly Cru Beaujolais. The wines from this region are more deeply concentrated with less earthiness than Brouilly wine.
Fleurie - These wines often have a velvet texture with fruity and floral bouquet. In ideal vintages, a vin de garde is produced that is meant to age at least four years before consuming and can last up to 16 years.
Saint-Amour - Local lore suggest that this region was named after a Roman soldier (St. Amateur) who converted to Christianity after escaping death and established a mission near the area. The wines from Saint-Amour are noted for their spicy flavors with aromas of peaches. The vin de garde wines require at least four year aging and can last up to twelve years.
The last four crus produce the fullest bodied examples of Cru Beaujolais that need the most time aging in the bottle and are usually meant to be consumed between four to ten years after harvest.
Chénas - Once contained many of the vineyards that are now sold under the Moulin-à-Vent designation. It is now the smallest Cru Beaujolais with wines that are noted for their aroma of wild roses. In ideal vintages, a vin de garde is produced that is meant to age at least five years before consuming and last up to 15. The area named is derived from the
oak trees (chêne) that
used to dot the hillside. forest of French
Juliénas-This cru is based around the village named after Julius Caesar. The wines made from this area are noted for their richness and spicy with aromas reminiscent of peonies. In contrast to the claims of Régnié, Juliénas growers believe that this area was the site of the first vineyards planted in
Beaujolais by the Romans during this
conquest of Gaul.
Morgon - Produces earthy wines that can take on a Burgundian character of silky texture after five years aging. These wines are generally the deepest color and most rich Cru Beaujolais with aromas of apricots and peaches. Within this Cru there is a particular hillside, known as Cote du Py, in the center of Morgon that produces the most powerful examples of Morgon wines.
Moulin-à-Vent - Wines are very similar to the nearby Chénas Cru Beaujolais. This region produces some of the longest lasting examples of
Beaujolais wine, with some wines
lasting up to ten years. Some producers will age their Moulin-à-Vent in oak
which gives these wines more tannin and structure than other Beaujolais wines. The phrase fûts de
chêne (oak casks) will sometimes appear on the wine label of these oak aged
wines. The region is noted for the high level of manganese that is in the soil,
which can be toxic to grape vines in high levels. The level of toxicity in
Moulin-à-Vent does not kill the vine but is enough to cause chlorosis and alter
the vine's metabolism to severely reduce yields. The resulting wine from
Moulin-à-Vent are the most full bodied and powerful examples in Beaujolais. The vin de garde styles
require at least 6 years aging and can last up to 20 years.
Source: http://www.wikipedia.com & http://marcdelage.unblog.fr