Tuesday, February 09, 2010

For Beaujolais, a "Villages" is the way to go

It is unfortunate that over the years, the wines of beaujolais have developed a negative reputation among consumers that tend to associate them with the sweet cotton candy and banana gum flavors of Beaujolais Nouveau. That's too bad because wines from the Villages appellation or one of the 10 Crus are definitively worth checking out.

Beaujolais Wine Region

Beaujolais is a large wine region located south of Burgundy, along the Saône River between the towns of Mâcon and Lyon. The Beaujolais AOC is the broadest appellation covering 60 villages, with nearly half of the crop being released just a few weeks after harvest and sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.

Beaujolais-Villages covers 39 villages located in northern Beaujolais. It is a more hilly region with soils containing more granite and schist. Due to better growing conditions, the Beaujolais-Villages wines have more complexity and depth.

The finest wines come from the 10 Crus of Beaujolais located in the foothills of the Beaujolais mountains. Seven of them (Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié) relate to actual villages. Côte de Brouilly is grown on the volcanic hillsides of Mont Brouilly and Brouilly is found in the flatter area around it. Moulin-à-Vent, a more serious wine with great aging potential, is named for the last remaining windmill in the Beaujolais.

Ninety-eight percent of the area is planted with Gamay, a grape with a thin skin and low in tannins. Gamay ripened two weeks earlier than Pinot Noir and is less difficult to cultivate. It produces a light wine with a bright and fruity style.

I recently tasted the 2008 Beaujolais-Villages Louis Jadot that was sent to me by Kobrand Corporation. Maison Louis Jadot is the largest Negociant in Beaujolais that purchases grapes instead of juice or must in order to keep full control over winemaking decisions. Half of the wine is matured in oak barrels and the other half in stainless steel. The final cuvée contains up to 40% of declassified wines from the various crus of Beaujolais.

The wine had a bright color with red cherry aromas on the nose. On the palate, it was light-bodied and juicy leaving a clean and fresh aftertaste. Try it with a Frisée aux Lardons Salad, one of the classic Bistro specialties from Lyon.

Now for your February 14th dinner, why not share a bottle of Saint-Amour with your Valentine?

Related post:
•  Visiting Fleurie in Beaujolais

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