Visit Beaujolais and follow Route des vins du Beaujolais for the Best French Wine Experience
After doing my dreamt holidays in Loire Valley to explore the best French Royal Castles, I had my dreamt trip out of Lyon to the local vineyards…because the 1st thing that I associated with France was wine and I didn’t know anything about it except of the fact that I like Californian Rose wine only and a small tip here – do not mention this to a French person as they may feel offended….they usually don’t like and drink rose and they appreciate their local red or white wines only! So i learnt my lesson! Now I tasted more wines but still I didn’t know that much about the wines but only…keep white in the fridge, eat it with fish; red goes very well with meat and is a obligatory wine when you eat fromage…so as you see I knew the basics…So i wanted to explore and discover more…the best way to do is to visit the professionalists so called WineGrowers! So:
- I booked the visit at the Chateau Chateau de Portier for a tour and wine tasting!
- I printed out the map of the Route des vins du Beaujolais
- I checked out if there are any Les Plus Beaux Villages around as now I am addicted to visiting the medieval villages and so I stopped at the Oingt beautiful golden stone gem of Beaujolais
- I packed the car with friends and food as i planned for a good time to share with them and a picnic lunch on the open air
- I took the charged camera with the big memory card
- I packed some magazines and book to read in a car drive which was supposed to be long, yet I didnt open any as the views were stunning and i could not stop admiring & feeling relaxed and blessed
- I checked the weather and I was sure its sunny and warm…I was lucky… well i helped the luck a bit as i was checking the weather for that day for the past week 😉
- I did not learnt anything about Beaujolais beforehand and this is something I regret as I would understand more and have questions to ask but the first thing i did was to get home, organize photos and read more about the Beaujolais and its wines so now I want to share this knowledge with you so you can get prepared, will you?
Beaujolais which is famous for its long tradition of winemaking, is the largest and most southerly of the Burgundy region. The land was first cultivated by the Romans, and the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation was awarded to the wines in 1936. Nowadays about 14 million cases of Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages and the Crus of Beaujolais are being produced and sold internationally.
Beaujolais region is located in the north of Lyon, and it is a part of the north of the Rhône département of the Rhône-Alpes region. It is pretty big covering 22,870 ha on a space of 34 miles long from north to south and 7 to 9 miles wide. There are nearly 4,000 grape growers across 60 village communes. It is divided into two large zones by the Nizerand River. You’ll find different soils on each side of the river. The north part of Beaujolais has the terrain which is composed of granite and decomposed rock (porphyry, schist). It makes the north Beaujolais wines short pruned (spur or cordon) or bush (‘gobelet’). In contrast to the south part which has a terrain made of clay-based soils (marl). So the wines produced there are cane pruned (‘Guyot’). There are 10 quality zone of Beaujolais so called the 10 ‘crus’: Brouilly (1307 ha); Morgon (1143 ha); Fleurie (872 ha); Moulin-à-vent (676 ha); Juliénas (609 ha); Régnié (480 ha); Chiroubles (378 ha); Côte-de-brouilly (322 ha); Saint-amour (321 ha); Chénas (284 ha). On top of that there are 3 more appellation areas: Beaujolais, Beaujolais supérieur, Beaujolais-villages but they produce only Beaujolais nouveau.
Beaujolais represents the continental climate which has strong temperature variations from day to night and between the seasons.
Beaujolais is unique in its wine production process because ot the use of the grapes called Gamay (or Gamay Noir) These are thin skin and is low in tannins grapes. Beaujolais region is also famous for the use of carbonic maceration. So the wine producers use the whole grapes to put into fermentation vessels. Then the weight of those on top crushes the bottom layers which give juice and its starts to ferment and saturates the upper grapes in carbon dioxide. This causes intra-cellular fermentation, where the grapes ferment as a whole berry, producing brightly colored wines with low tannin levels and intensely fruity flavors…uff this is so complicated but interesting!
The winegrowers of Beaujolais produce 3 types of wines:
- Beaujolais nouveau which is a purple-pink wine reflecting its youth. The winegrowers use very little tannin to produce this type of wine and it can be dominated by such fruity flavours as banana, grape, strawberry, fig and pear drop. That is why Beaujolais noveau can be bottled only 6-8 weeks after harvest. You should drink it slightly chilled to 13°C .
- The white wines mostly with Chardonnay grapes though Aligoté. Interestingly, they make up only 1% of Beaujolais wine production.
- Beaujolais red wines which are very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity. They should never be drunk the same year they have been produced. They should be stored for few more years for better taste and quality. Primary Fruit flavors of Beaujolais wines are Raspberry, Tart Cherry, Cranberry, but you can also find other flavors such as Mushroom, Forest Floor, Smoke, Violet, Baker’s Yeast, Banana, Bubblegum. The wines of Beaujolais are high in acidity High and low in tannin, with the average alcohol Level 10-13% ABV. You should drink them slightly chilled at the 12-14 °C
So did you learn something new today? I did a lot. It all worked out very well for me: the trip, friends, weather, wine, learnings and views! I would recommend the Route de Beaujolais as a very good idea for a trip out from Lyon and the best way to discover the magic behind French wine production. Convinced now? So dont waste time, dont think too much just pack your stuff and leave to discover Beaujolais!