Thursday, December 22, 2011

EXPLORING BEAUJOLAIS


Brouilly, Beaujolais

I have always thought rosé wines had it tough.  People seem to think rosé is reserved for summer, so a lot of folks miss out on the pink delight the rest of the year.

That's nothing compared to the sad story of Beaujolais.  Some people think Beaujolais is for November only - and just the last two weeks of November!  Au contraire.

Beaujolais Nouveau is the young, fresh wine of the Gamay grape released on the third Thursday of November each year - but there's a lot more to the Beaujolais region than that fruity beverage that ends up on so many Thanksgiving tables.  

Picturesque Beaujolais is sometimes called "the Tuscany of France," with vineyards covering nearly every hillside.  Beaujolais produces the most single-varietal wines in France, and 99% of their production is Gamay.

Nearly the entire production of wine in the Beaujolais region is red - only 1% is white, and most of that is Chardonnay.  Beaujolais is technically in both the Burgundy and Rhone regions.  The climate is more like the Rhone, but the wine is considered to be different enough to justify separation from both regions.

The Gamay Noir grape - a cross of Pinot Noir and the ancient white variety, Gouais - is the grape from which Beaujolais wines are made.  The wine of Beaujolais is fermented in cement or steel tanks, undergoes semi-carbonic maceration and is put through malolactic fermentation.  

The result of all that tech-talk is a fruity red wine high in acidity and low in tannins.  It has been called "the white wine which is red."

The Beaujolais region has twelve appellations: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages (made up of 39 communes) and the ten Beaujolais Crus - Brouilly (pictured), Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour.  The Cru wines come from these villages in the northern part of the region.

In the coming weeks - maybe months - Now And Zin will be tasting and reporting on a number of different wines from the Beaujolais region.