Spanning the departments of Rhône and Saône-et-Loire, the AOC Beaujolais vineyards extend from the golden-hued Pierres Dorées in the south to the northern reaches along the Saône river. As the most expansive among the 12 Beaujolais appellations, Beaujolais stands as a distinguished appellation in its own merit.
A Regional Gem in Three Colors
The AOC Beaujolais stands out as a regional appellation that spans all 72 communes of the Beaujolais vineyards, making it the most extensive of the Beaujolais AOCs. Primarily situated in the vineyard’s southern region between Arbresle and Belleville, it stretches to include several plots along the eastern slopes of the Beaujolais crus, reaching almost to Saint-Amour. The region has dedicated over 300 hectares to producing AOC Beaujolais whites, with chardonnay plots chiefly located in the far north and south, encompassing the communes of Liergues, Le Bois d’Oingt, and Bully.
The AOC Beaujolais: An Overview
Established in 1937, the Beaujolais appellation has since then been a household name, recognizable to both domestic and international wine enthusiasts. Known especially for its en primeur wines, the AOC Beaujolais label’s offerings never fail to surprise, inciting passion and lively discussions among aficionados.
Characteristics of Beaujolais Appellation: White
- Tasting: Balanced
- Tasting Occasion: Enjoy year-round during aperitifs with friends or festive meals.
- Nose: Floral and mineral aromas.
- Culinary Pairings: Pairs beautifully with Tahitian salad with marinated white tuna, stuffed chicken, cod with cream sauce, chicken in supreme sauce, fish with cream en papillote, and seafood risotto.
- Color: A crystalline yellow adorned with golden highlights.
- Serving Temperature: 8-10°C
- Palate: Offers a generous mouth-feel with notes of peach, apricot, and occasional hints of vanilla.
Characteristics of Beaujolais Appellation: Red
- Tasting: Enticing with a fruity and crisp profile.
- Tasting Occasion: Perfect for aperitifs and meals among friends.
- Nose: Rich in freshly picked, slightly spicy red fruit aromas.
- Culinary Pairings: Suits brunches, raw veggies, chicken fricassee, andouillette sausage, poultry terrine, braised veal tenderloins, sugar tarts, and raspberry tarts.
- Color: A radiant crimson red.
- Serving Temperature: 12-14°C
Characteristics of Beaujolais Appellation: Rosé
- Tasting: Refreshing, expressive, and universally appealing.
- Tasting Occasion: Ideal for lunches with friends or appetizer buffets.
- Nose: Features a delicate blend of floral and red fruit aromas.
- Color: Radiates a pale hue with salmon-pink highlights.
- Serving Temperature: 5-8°C
- Palate: Supple and fruity, it quenches thirst delightfully.
This in-depth glance into the Beaujolais appellation offers a guide into the rich tapestry of wines it brings forth, each unique in its profile and character, yet all intrinsically tied to the region’s esteemed terroir.
Shelf Life of Beaujolais
Contrary to popular belief, many Beaujolais wines have significant aging potential, transcending their youthful vibrancy to suit a wide array of palates and culinary pairings. Excluding Beaujolais Nouveau, some wines from this appellation can be enjoyed after cellaring for 3 to 4 years.
The Legacy of Beaujolais Nouveau
Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages are the exclusive AOCs permitted to produce the famed Beaujolais Nouveaux in both red and rosé. This wine tradition, nearly seven decades strong, merges history with global acclaim. Rooted in the European celebration of Saint Martin’s Day, the spirit of Beaujolais Nouveau has since evolved into a worldwide sensation, with the third Thursday of November marking its release. This “happy day” sees Beaujolais Nouveau gracing tables from North America to Japan, Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia, and notably China. Testament to its global appeal, over 20% of the Beaujolais vineyard’s yield goes into Nouveau production annually.
Crafting this wine demands the utmost expertise. Achieving its signature light, fruity essence without the bite of astringency requires meticulous attention. Beaujolais wineries continuously innovate, from refining production methods to presenting in visually captivating packaging. While Beaujolais Nouveau remains the focal point, the third Thursday of November increasingly celebrates all Beaujolais wines.
A Rosé Note
The introduction of Beaujolais & Beaujolais Villages Nouveaux rosés began in Japan in 2006, reaching France by 2007. Though limited in production, these rosés, effervescent with fruitiness and zest, have seen their popularity rise. By 2019, nearly 14,000 hl across both appellations were produced, translating to about 2 million bottles.