November means Beaujolais. For many when hearing Beaujolais the mind immediately thinks Beaujolais Nouveau. Did you know there are actually three different styles of Beaujolias? Nouveau is released with much fanfare across the globe. It is a fun wine meant to be opened upon purchased and consumed. Beaujolais Villages are offer slightly more depth and body. Beaujolais Crus are the most structured of the wines. These wines offer depth, concentrated fruit, tannin structure, and can improve with age. Today our French Winophiles group is explore the depth and agility of Beaujolais Cru.
Beaujolais continues to increase in popularity across the globe. As Nouveau is released the third Thursday of November, sales for crus continue to climb in the month of November. Therefore, November is not just about Beaujolais Nouveau, it is a month of Beaujolais. Here is a quick over-view of the Beaujolais wine region:
- It is located north of Lyon in eastern France, overlaps Burgundy in the north and Rhone in the south.
- It is only 34 miles long, and 7-9 miles wide with a total vine surface area of 61 square miles, leading to an annual production of 800,000 hectare liters.
- It is divided by the Nizerand River; granite and schist soils are located north of the river, providing excellent structure for the wines, all Crus vineyards are located in this region
- Ideal growing conditions for Gamay. The area receives lots of sunshine and has clay soils and marl are located south of the river, where most of the Beaujolai Nouveau is produced; granite soil is in the north.
- All Beaujolais wines are crafted from the Gamay grape with the exception of Beaujolais blanc, made from Chardonnay
- All grapes are manually harvested; Beaujolais Nouveau and some Beaujolais Village wines are crafted with a unique winemaking method known as “semi-carbonic maceration,” or whole berry fermentation, preserving the freshness of the grapes while adding distinctive banana and candied fruit aromas. Many Beaujolais Cru wines undergo crushed-fruit fermentation and some will be oak aged in large vats rather than casks.
- Twelve appellations with ten crus
- 3 classifications of Beaujolais wine:
- Beaujolais AOC: largest appellation consisting of 96 producers, largely in the south, known for easy drinking, refreshing wines with light acidity and tannins, drink immediately; home to Beaujolais Nouveau
- Beaujolais Villages AOC: includes 39 official villages, moving north on the granite soil with a bit more minerality to the wines, a little more elegant and refined, drink young
- Beaujolais Crus: 10 Crus, all north of the river, highest quality terroir based wines with complexity and aging potential
Gamay is a bit of an illusionist grape with very black skin that bleeds white juice, yet creates a beautiful ruby colored wine. This cousin of Pinot Noir is typically known for its fruit flavors of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, blackberry, and cranberry, wrapped in warm spice notes of cinnamon, vanilla, smoke, violets, eucalyptus, minerals, and white pepper. Gamay is fashioned into a variety of expressions in Beaujolais.
Beaujolais Crus are comprised of 10 villages. Today our French Winophiles group is focusing on three of these villages:
Brouilly: The largest cru area at 1,200 hectares. Home to pink hued granite soil, it is known to produce wines light in body with lots of red berry notes.
Côtes de Brouilly: This village is located on the slopes of the extinct volcano, Mt Brouilly. The location and soil results in wines with dark fruit and bold flavors.
Morgon: Known for soils rich in iron and manganese, these are the most stand out masculine wines of all the crus. The wines are usually deep purple in color with notes of rich fruit and earth.
The final wine we are exploring is a Beaujolais Village wine. These wines represent 25% of all Beaujolais production. The soil, comprised of granite and sand, is poor in quality. This forces the vines to yield better quality grapes.
Here are brief notes on the four wines and highlights of my food pairing:
2015 Vignerons de Bel Air Natural Beaujolais Villages France: Fresh and fruity with cherry, strawberry, red currants, soft spice and floral notes; medium- tannins, low sulfur, light on palate with great flavor and lift; medium finish.
2015 Domaine de Briante Brouilly Beaujolais France: Nice balance of fruity and earth; Bright red and blue berries, spice, white mushrooms, candied violets; enters palate with juicy fruit, mid-palate spice, back palate white tea; medium weight, tannins, and acidity; elegant, easy and enjoyable
2015 Domaine Baron de L’Ecluse Les Garances Côtes de Brouilly Beaujolais France: Black fruit dominate, spice, forest floor; firm tannins and acidity at medium+, rich and concentrated, medium+ body, long finish
2015 Dominique Piron Côte de Py Morgon Beaujolais France: Masculine indeed; rich aromas of pronounced red berries, violets, spice notes, black tea, forest floor, and minerality; pronounced chewy tannins, medium+ acidity, this wine has the structure to age beautifully
I chose to pair the Domaine de Briante Brouilly with cranberry and balsamic vinegar pork medallions served with roasted kobacha squash, smashed potatoes, and roasted haricot verts with Brussels sprouts. It was a delicious meal that screamed fall. Since Gamay is a cousin of Pinot Noir, when thinking of food pairings, most of the time if it will pair with a Pinot it will pair with Beaujolais. The pork was seared on the stove in a cast iron skillet, then topped with a balsamic, cranberry, honey, Dijon mustard reduction, and baked in the oven till cooked through. These seasonal flavors, along with the squash and Brussels sprouts were a perfect pairing for the wine. I even enjoyed a second glass the following night with grilled lamb chops, a less likely but equally pleasing pairing.
Please continue to discover Beaujolais wine and food pairings by visiting my fellow #Winophiles articles:
- Jill from L’Occasion shares “No Sleep ’til Beaujolais: The French Wine That’s Keeping Us Up All Night“
- Martin from Enofylz writes “Ready To Elevate Your Beaujolais Game? Go Beyond Nouveau!”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Savoring and Sipping Bottles and Bottles of Beaujolais”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest writes “Beaujolais Beyond Nouveau”
- Rob from Odd Bacchus shares “Beaujolais Reassessed“
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm writes “Say Yay for Beaujolais“
- Jane from Always Ravenous shares “Beaujolais Wine: A Foodie’s Dream”
- Nicole from Somms Table writes “Cooking to the Wine: Stephane Aviron Cru Beaujolais with Pork Tenderloin While Jumping Life Hurdles“
- Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “Thanksgiving for Two: Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Loin Paired with Beaujolais Cru”
- Liz from What’s in that Bottle writes “Not-Nouveau Beaujolais: Behold the Beauty of “Real” Beaujolais”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! shares “Tasting the Beaujolais Pyramid over Dinner”
- David from Cooking Chat shares “Food-Friendly Red Wine from Beaujolais”
To learn more about Beaujolais visit Beaujolais, Discover Beaujolais, and Inter Beaujolais web sites. Special thank you to Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest for procuring these media sample wines for each of us.
My Song Selection: Beaujolais can be both fun and serious. It can be festive and it can be sophisticated. Either way it is very lively and approachable, just like this song.
Get your own bottle of Beaujolais and share it with me on social media. Use the tag #lovebeaujolais to join in the fun! Please keep an eye on my Instagram for more Beaujolais fun this month. Join the #Winophiles discussion tomorrow morning at 10am CST to further explore Beaujolais.