There is more to Beaujolais than nouveau. The more "serious" wines from the region all called cru (see below). Our favorites and Fleurie and Moulin-a-Vent.

Quick Beaujolais Facts:

cru - growth (Fr); term indicating a village or vineyard of high winemaking standards, most often used in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace.

The 10 crus of Beaujolais are: Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Cotes de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Régnié and the Valentine's Day favorite Saint-Amour.

Appellation - Name (Fr); used to designate the official geographic origin of a wine, which is part of a wine’s legal name.

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Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings. Next time you are looking for a wine that everyone will love, try a cry Beaujolais. They have the fruit of the nouveau version, but more complexity and body. Click the black bars above each photo to view the Beaujolais recipes.
Gamay is a vigourous vine that produces a plentiful crop of large grapes. The resulting wine is straightforward and easy on the palate. Back in the 14th century, Philip the Bold feared that its stunning success in eastern France might pollute the reputation of his elegant favorite, pinot noir, and he banished the grape from Burgundy. Just to the south, in the Beaujolais region, the grape thrived. The simple, fruity wine could be drunk just months after the harvest, making it a cash cow, and of course, a very attractive crop.

Harvesting the grapes proceeds in much the same manner as in Phillip the Bold's day. In order to preserve the integrity of the grape bunch, gamay is exclusively handpicked. The bunches are then placed intact in large vats. This method, called whole-berry fermentation, gives beaujolais its characteristic fruitiness and reduces the effect of acid and tannins on the overall balance.

There are three recognized designations of quality in beaujolais wines. The first level, just plain beaujolais, is produced from grapes grown in less than ideal conditions. The resulting wine is light, simple, and inexpensive; a perfect wine to enjoy with lunch. The next step up in quality is called Beaujolais-Villages. The grapes used are a little riper, the soil conditions a little better, the wine is a little more reliable. At the top of the quality ladder are the ten crus beaujolais. Through careful control and consistent winemaking methods, some weight has been added to the typical gamay fruitiness. These rounded, more full-bodied wines can benefit from some bottle aging (generally one to five years) and may cost a bit more ($13-$16).

Beaujolais Nouveau (new) is probably the most familiar style of gamay. It is even fruitier and lighter than the other beaujolais styles, and often has a faint aroma of bananas. Cases and cases are officially released on the 3rd Thursday in November, with great fanfare. While many sneer, others await its arrival anxiously, especially the vintners, for whom it provides an instant investment return. It is made to be drunk within six months of bottling, and does not age well. Too bad, because it would be an ideal summer sipper with a light lunch by the pool.

For the novice, choosing a European wine on the basis of grape variety is a difficult and confusing task. Typically, the better wines of France, Italy, and Spain are named after legally established growing regions based on centuries of vinification expertise. In other words, let's say you enjoy Beaujolais, which is made from the Gamay grape. According to French wine laws, or appellation, in order for this wine to be called Beaujolais, the grapes must be grown in the area surrounding the village of Beaujeu. Some winemakers in the Beaujolais region take special care with their wine and have created subtle variations in style, according to 1) the ripeness of the berries, 2) climate and soil conditions, and 3) their own personal preference. The French appellation system has awarded these winemakers a special status known as cru and allows them to name their wines after specific towns within the Beaujolais region. There are ten such Crus, with names like Brouilly, Fleurie, and Moulin-a-Vent featured prominently on the label. In fact, without careful inspection, you may never know you are drinking a Beaujolais. Almost all Beaujolais is made by large firms that buy up the grapes and wine from smaller growers and then blend, bottle, and sell the wine under their own labels. Two such well-known and dependable firms are Louis Jadot and Georges DuBoeuf.