Beaujolais. I've written of my love of Beaujolais before, but now we're getting to the heart of the matter.
Beaujolais is a wine region in France, considered part of the Burgundy region though Gamay is the primary red grape used for winemaking (vs. Pinot Noir for the rest of the Burgundy region.)
To understand tonight's wine, there are a couple of things about Beaujolais you have to understand. First, like all French wines, Beaujolais is labelled and sold by region, not grape, so if you are drinking Beaujolais, you are taking it for granted that it's gamay in the bottle. Next, there are distinctions based on how the bottle is labelled. If it just says Beaujolais (or Beaujolais-Superiore) it came from anywhere in the Beaujolais region. That is your entry level wine and the least expensive to buy. A small step up is Beaujolais-Villages. These wines are usually $10-15 and use grapes from any of the 38 communes (villages) in the region. Of these 38 communes, 10 are considered "cru" villages (St-Amour, Julienas, Moulin-a-Vent, Chenas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Brouilly and Cote de Brouilly) the best places which grow the best grapes. Cru level Beaujolais is labelled by the name of the village and in general these wines are riper, have fuller body, more complexity and the ability to age. This is the stuff I love, and even better, this is really excellent wine you can get for around $20.
Tonight's wine is from Cote de Brouilly, one of those esteemed cru villages, and it was a pleasure to drink. Bright red fruit, juicy raspberry and strawberry jam with a backbone of minerality, this is a wine with complexity enough to keep a wine lover like me interested from first sip to the last, yet is so darn tasty that even if you know nothing about wine, you'll find it delicious. This is the Beaujolais I get excited about.
***Oh, and if you've seen Beaujolais Nouveau, that's a different animal altogether. It's super young wine, released almost immediately after harvest, to celebrate the vintage and give a sense of the growing season. They are generally very light-bodied and super fruity and are meant to be drunk immediately. There's quite a lot of press and fanfare for Beaujolais nouveau and some people love it. I am not one of those people.
Labels: Beaujolais, France, Gamay, Wine, Wine Review