Wines from Beaujolais are usually perceived as being popular and easy to drink. I have tried some interesting wines from the area in the past, but nothing really captivated me until I had a chance to visit the region and meet firsthand with local producers. This experience completely altered my mindset.
We visited some young and energetic winemakers who are really passionate about what they do and are trying to change the global view of Beaujolais wines for the better. I was amazed by some of the wines I tried in the short time I was there. Using a longer maceration period, they make a more Burgundian style of red. The Cuvée Marly 2009 from Château de Cercy, for example, simply blew me away with its deep, complex nose and a great palate structure, giving it potential to age very well over time. Others, like Christophe Lapierre’s Moulin à Vent 2010 and Aurélien Grillet’s Morgon Cote de Py 2009 from the Domaine de la Bonne Tonne, are making wines that are much richer in style, which to my taste, makes them more interesting than traditional Beaujolais.
I made two big discoveries in this underrated region. The first of which were the whites, which I have never previously encountered. They are competing with their Burgundian neighbours but are of a much better value for money. Secondly, the broad range of terroir was of huge interest to me. Of the wines we tasted, the vineyards were on average 60 years old with Beaujolais having some of oldest vineyards in France. The winemakers have realized the diversity and potential of their Domaine and are now offering different cuvées according to their “climat”, as in Burgundy. They demonstrated to us that Gamay can produce different styles of wines within the same Cru. Most of them are ready to reduce their yield, sometimes down to 10hl/ha, to produce these little treasures.
Moreover, producers like Paul-Henri Thillardon and Romain Jambon, are experimenting on their land and in the cellar to see how far the Beaujolais potential can go. They graciously offered us tastes of some of their trial wines. If not convincing, it was a great pleasure to see the passion behind it and to try their classic cuvées which are much more pleasant and promising. Finally, it was quite a relief to realize that the younger generation is taking care of their land. All the winemakers we visited are classified as either organic or biodynamic and if not, are following the move by understanding the real needs of their vines.
Overall it has been a great journey and I think Beaujolais is on the path to become a serious reference in the world of wine. With the last three vintages being very high quality, now is the time to invest in those gems while they are still affordable.
We will be receiving exclusive shipments of some of these wines in the coming months. In the mean time, why not have a look at our range of Beaujolais wines.