This month, learning about Beaujolais.
Like lots of people, I have heard of this wine, in particular Beaujolais nouveau, but never really known what it is. So onto my books and Wikipedia to find out more. And of course some tasting as well.
Firstly, it is an area in France, just north of Lyon. And not far north of the Côtes du Rhône region discussed in last months post.
From Wikipedia, Beaujolais “is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape, which has a thin skin and is low in tannins.” So as Côtes du Rhône has a strong connection with the Grenache grape, Beaujolais seems to have one with the Gamay grape. Looking at the map on the right, there is a similarity with Côtes du Rhône. There is the overall area, and area that can be labelled with the additional ‘Villages’ and then Beaujolais Cru that can have their own specific village name. According to Victoria Moore, there is a clear route of ‘Villages better, Cru best’. (And it is a ‘Villages’ that I am reviewing). And then there is Beaujolais Nouveau. I think most people know that nouveau in French means ‘new’ so basically this is new. From Wikipedia “It is the lightest, fruitiest style of Beaujolais and meant for simple quaffing. Any Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages AOC vineyard can produce Beaujolais Nouveau. The grapes are harvested between late August and early September. It is fermented for just a few days and released to the public on the third Thursday of November – “Beaujolais Nouveau Day”. It is the first French wine to be released for each vintage year. In 1992, at its peak, more than half of all Beaujolais wine was sold as “Beaujolais Nouveau”. The wines are meant to be drunk as young as possible, when they are at their freshest and fruitiest. They can last up to one or two years but will have lost most of their characteristic flavors by that point“.
I confirmed the connection when reading Robert Joseph’s book, in this text about the Gamay grape.
“The grape is used to make Beaujolais, this variety benefits from that region’s combination of granite soil and use of the maceration carbonique technique to produce bright cherryish wines. Gamay is also grown in the Loire Valley and Southwest France, but the wines it makes there are usually less interesting” I found this interesting as I had tried another Gamay wine (read here) and I was not impressed.
From Victoria Moore’s The Wine Dine Dictionary she suggests Beaujolais for some vegetarian dishes such as aubergine parmigiana, , meatier fish dishes such as cod, or lighter meat dishes such beefburgers or rabbit, and tomatoes.
(text from books and wikipedia)
- Beaujolais Villages
- £5.99 from Lidl
Aroma: Rich pleasant fruits, but not too strong.
Taste: Light and nice (only 12.5%). Fruity, maybe a bit sweet. A very nice summer wine.Paul (me)
Overall a very nice wine, and at a very good price at Lidl. I have been back to buy more of this wine. Quoting from Oz Clarke, in Red & White book, he says “if ever a red wine was supposed to have a smile on its face, that’s Beaujolais” I could not agree more
Interesting to read Robert Joseph’s comments about Gamay wines that are not Beaujolais as often not good. Although I have only tasted a few of these, I will stick to a ‘No’ to Gamay unless they are a Beaujolais (possibly a Touraine), and if I am in the mood for a lighter, fruitier, fresher, more summery red wine. In which case a definite ‘Yes’. And this one, a Villages, from Lidl is very good value. Curious to try a ‘Cru’ one day to compare. Not going to go out of my way to find a ‘Nouveau’. It seems to mainly be a marketing gimmick, and possibly too light and possibly too sweet for me. But if I am in France on third Thursday in November one year, might give one a try.