If you are looking for a food-friendly, wallet-friendly wine, it’s time to try beautiful Beaujolais from one of the 12 appellations in eastern France. Specifically, Beaujolais is easy and elegant. It pairs with grilled meats, seafood, winter salads and more. Meanwhile, the best cheese pairing is Gruyere. We recently received samples of five bottles, and we really liked three of them. Read on for more about the wines and the region.
Beaujolais overlaps Burgundy in the north and Rhône in the south. Located north of Lyon, the picturesque vineyards run along the Saône River. The rolling hills and plains form a wine-growing area of 61 square miles.
As mentioned earlier, the region consists of 12 appellations: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and 10 Beaujolais Crus. The region’s most celebrated wines are the 10 Crus, and each is unique, thanks to its terroir. About 2,600 winegrowers annually produce an average of 120 million bottles. Subsequently, 40% is exported to more than 110 countries.
The region is best known for its versatile, light- to -medium-bodied reds – all single-varietal and mostly made of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. Moreover, 98% of all wines produced in the region comprise of Gamay for reds and rosés. Additionally, Beaujolais also produces a small amount of Chardonnay for white wines.
Furthermore, the region has ideal growing conditions. After all, it receives lots of sunshine and has granite-based soils that lend excellent structure to the wines. According to Discover Beaujolais, most of the harvesting is also manual. “Handpicking means entire bunches can be vatted to allow a certain kind of maceration. This winemaking is specific to the Beaujolais region.”
Most important, these wines range from fruity Beaujolais to more powerful, intense reds from Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent. And then there’s the delicate rosé from Jean-Paul Brun.
Lighter in body than most, these reds taste lovely when chilled. This makes them as popular in the warmer months as they are during the winter.
2019 Terres Doreées Le Rosé d’ Folie par Jean-Paul Brun (SRP $14)
According to Jenise Stone, my very good friend and wine geek with an excellent palate, Jean-Paul Brun is a wine producer revered by Beaujolais fanatics. After tasting his rosé, we understand why. This is a direct-press 100% Gamay rosé from the most productive vines in Brun’s estate vineyards. Delicate, yet solid and medium-bodied, this pretty wine is rosy pink with a vibrant, peachy, crisp palate and subtle minerality. Pair it with sautéed shrimps and vegetables or sweet-and-sour pork ribs.
2016 Chateau des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent (SRP $25)
The Louis Jadot Moulin-a-Vent is considered the region’s most Burgundian Cru, with aging potential for 10 years or more. Not surprisingly, we found it very drinkable now. This was our favorite, for its smooth richness, complexity, balance and texture. Deep garnet in color, the wine opens with aromas of red fruits and black pepper followed by flavors of earth, tomato, cherries, red berries and a touch of spice. Pair Moulin-a-Vent with grilled steaks with garlic butter, chicken, carne asada or perhaps a pepperoni pizza.
2017 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Les Charmes (SRP $21)
Morgon is the second largest Cru after Brouilly. Similar to Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon is on top of the hierarchy of Beaujolais Crus and will evolve for 15 years. While it is drinkable now, we recommend putting it away for more depth in the future. This wine is medium-bodied with a nose of cassis, dark cherries and smoked meats, followed by flavors of strawberries and other red fruit. Pair this wine with grilled meat, duck, lamb or even a Gruyere grilled cheese sandwich.
These wines have three flavor profiles: Fruity and Delicate, Fine and Flavored and Intense and Generous. Consequently, according to Discover Beaujolais, novices should begin with the lighter Crus like Chiroubles and Fleurie. Meanwhile, the fuller-bodied Beaujolais like Chénas and Moulin-à-Vent take a little more experience to appreciate fully.
In conclusion, we really enjoyed these three bottles, and look forward to tasting more wine from the region.
Margot and Dave