Among the famous beaujolais AOC, you’re probably familiar with Saint-Amour, Morgon, Chirouble, Brouilly, Fleurie, Coteaux Bourguignons and Juliénas. They can be counted on the fingers of one hand along the edges of the Saône. However, they take their source from more than seventy types of soils (clay, limestone, granite, etc.) and the Beaujolais vineyards flourish thanks to the sun and sometimes on steep, almost vertical slopes, but mostly on granite soils! This peculiarity offers structured and complex wines of a beautiful delicacy. Known all over the world, Beaujolais wines are almost exclusively made with one single grape variety: gamay for red wines with ruby colours, aromas of red fruits, plums, strawberries, currants and cherries. White wines, with aromas of fresh fruit and white flowers, come from Chardonnay grape varieties.
Located in the Rhône department, the Beaujolais vineyard is linked to the Burgundy wine region. However, it differs from the latter not only by its grape variety, but also by its production. Indeed, the Beaujolais is an old exploitation which has always managed to make a name for itself over the years.
Beaujolais, a vineyard like no other
Geographically, the Beaujolais vineyard is located at the foot of the eponymous mountain, between Mâcon and Lyon. Moreover, it is located next to the Mâconnais vineyard. From north to south, its length is 55 kilometres. Its width is 20 kilometres.
The Beaujolais vineyard is divided by the Nizerand River. Thus, it benefits from two different types of soil. The estates located north of the river benefit from sandy soil with an acid pH. The different geological factors in the area mean that the grape varieties grow quickly and their fertility must be controlled.
The south side of Nizerand benefits from a sedimentary soil. It is made of shales and has an acid pH. This part of the Beaujolais vineyard is visible from the A6 highway.
This French wine region benefits of a continental climate. Reinforced by the northern wind, it is ideal for maintaining the health of the grapes. These effects are noted both in summer and autumn. However, winters in the Beaujolais vineyards are dry and cold. And in spring, late frosts can destroy grape plants.
An oceanic climate also affects the area, but it loses its strength thanks to the protection offered by the Beaujolais mountains. Westerly winds are sometimes unleashed, which cleans up the farms and accelerates the ripening of the grape varieties.
Mediterranean-type weather conditions also affect the southern part of the vineyard. This produces sunny summers, but with risks of storms and hail dangerous for the vines.
The Beaujolais vineyard has many appellations
The wine-growing region is known for its Gamay N plants. This type of grape variety produces fine Beaujolais red wines with red fruit, cherry or plum aromas. It is also used to make "primeur" or "garde" wines.
For the production of whites, including Crémant de Bourgogne, farmers prefer Chardonnay B. This grape produces balanced Beaujolais wines with fresh fruit and white flower aromas.
The vineyard mainly produces the Beaujolais appellation. A large part of the drinks is sold under the name of Beaujolais nouveau. 38 communes in the region offer AOC Beaujolais-villages.
You will also discover the Beaujolais wines marketed as "primeur" and called Beaujolais-villages nouveau. Finally, there are the Beaujolais crus, 10 local or communal appellations. Brouilly, Juliénas or Saint-Amour are among them.
Since it is linked to the Burgundy vineyard, Beaujolais can produce AOC Burgundy wines. The wine-growing region is also allowed to bottle Burgundy communal appellations such as Bourgogne or Crémant de Bourgogne.
Beaujolais reveals itself through its estates and its products
To get to know the Beaujolais vineyards better, visit some of the estates. The Domaine Les Capréoles opens its doors to you. You will find it in Les Lecareux. Specialized in organic farming, this farm will enable you to get to know the region better. You can also buy Beaujolais wines there.
Rendezvous at the Domaine des Michelons. Located on the Moulin-à-vent and Chénas appellation, it will help you understand the process of the transformation of Gamay into an exceptional wine.
And to better appreciate the quality of Beaujolais wines, drink them with the appropriate dishes. Red wines reveal their complexity when served with local charcuterie such as brioche sausage or Lyon rosette.
After buying Beaujolais white wines, treat yourself by pairing them with local cheeses such as Charolais or Mâconnais, as well as fromage frais such as Faisselle.
As far as food and wine, white wines goes perfectly with fish, cheese or even a bressane poulard. Red wines (including the Côte-de-Brouilly and Moulin à Vent) are to be enjoyed mainly with cold cuts, poultry (coq au vin, braised guinea fowl) but also go well with veal blanquette and beef bourguignon… rosé wines, which are intense, structured and have an intense fragrance, are remarkable when accompanied by local products or even a light meal.
Travelling through this beautiful region? Visit the Beaujolais wine estates!