The Beaujolais region produces light to medium body red, and some have the potential to age well, they are mainly made out of Gamay, and some will have similar characteristics in taste to Pinot Noir, depending on the area and the blending.
Beaujolais is south of Burgundy, France (Pino’s motherland) and its divided in North Beaujolais where all the 10 Gran Crus are and South Beaujolais. The landscape in the north is very different as it has mountains and different elevations. Its mostly granite and schist which make more structure and complex wines, and is one of the many reasons why all the Crus are there.
Beaujolais is made through a semi carbonic maceration, in short this is when the juice of the grapes start fermenting inside the un-press berry (they get picked by hand to keep them intact), during this intracellular fermentation yeast starts producing alcohol inside the berry releasing CO2 till they start bursting to release it. The grapes at the bottom of the vessel are crushed by gravity and undergo conventional fermentation. Its semi, because some juice will ferment inside the berry while other outside, from the grapes that were crushed by the gravity pressure created by the grapes on the top. All this happens inside an air tight (not oxygen) fermentation vessel (stainless, cement, etc).
This fermentation creates notorious flavor profiles of Pear Drop, Banana, Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Lifted Red Fruit/Floral Aromatics
Gamay is thin skin, high in acidity, low tannins, moderate alcohol with aromas of Tart Red Fruit (Strawberry, Red Cherry, Raspberry, Cranberry, Red Currant), Watermelon. Floral notes of Violets, Lilacs, Peonies, and you can find some moderate to High Minerality, Wet Granite, Stony, Crushed Rock
The 10 Crus (North to South) and their characteristics:
- Saint Amour: Fruity and light (short maceration time). Rich and more tannic and they can age….ending up tasting like Pinot Noir (with long maceration time).
- Julienas: Named after Julius Cesar
- Chenas: The smallest area. These wines are consider a bouquet of flowers in a velvet basket, with great potential for aging.
- Moulin-a-Vent: The King of Beaujolais. Age worthy (10yrs) with time will become “Pinote” (aka Pino Noir like).
- Fleurie: Feminine and Flowery. In higher areas are elegant and aromatic. In lower areas more structured and long-lasting wines.
- Chiroubles: Cooles of the Crus and last to harvest.
- Morgon: Well structure and age-worthy (5-10yrs)
- Regnie: The newest Cru
- Cote de Brouilly: Only Cru with slopes facing each point of the compass
- Brouilly: Largest and most southernmost.
The 3 styles of Beaujolais Crus:
Soft and Light: Chiroubles, Fleurie, St. Amour
Medium-Bodied: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Régnié
More Structured and Age-able: Chénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent
About this wine……….
Producer: Little would we know that when Marcel Lapierre took over the family domaine from his father in 1973, he was on the road to becoming a legend. In 1981, his path would be forever changed by Jules Chauvet, a man whom many now call his spiritual godfather. Chauvet was a winemaker, a researcher, a chemist, and a viticultural prophet. It was he who, upon the advent of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the 1950s, first spoke out for “natural wine,” harkening back to the traditional methods of the Beaujolais. Joined by local vignerons Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Jean Foillard, Marcel spearheaded a group that soon took up the torch of this movement. Kermit dubbed this clan the Gang of Four, and the name has stuck ever since. These rebels called for a return to the old practices of viticulture and vinification: starting with old vines, never using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late, rigorously sorting to remove all but the healthiest grapes, adding minimal doses of sulfur dioxide or none at all, and disdaining chaptalization. Sadly, the end of the 2010 vintage was Marcel’s last. He passed away at the end of the harvest—a poetic farewell for a man that forever changed our perception of Beaujolais. His son Mathieu and daughter Camille confidently continue the great work that their father pioneered, now introducing biodynamic vineyard practices and ensuring that Marcel’s legacy lives on.
Grape Variety: 100% Gamay of 60 yrs vines
Production: The methods at Lapierre are just as revolutionary as they are traditional. Grapes are picked at the last possible moment to obtain the ripest fruit, which is a trademark of the estate style. The Lapierres age their wines on fine lees for at least nine months in oak foudres and fûts ranging from three to thirteen years old.
These wines are the essence of Morgon: bright, fleshy fruit with a palatable joie de vivre that was undoubtedly inherited from their creator.
Tasting Notes: Gamay has a lovely bouquet of berries and cherries, delicate aromas of flowers and some banana (a flavor that comes from the carbonic maceration winemaking method). The palate is refreshing with low tannins.
This is a very well structure wine, with age capability…..that is if you want to wait….Not me!
Communes of Production: Villié-Morgon
Styles and Encépagement: Rouge: Gamay, plus a max. 15% mixed plantings of Chardonnay, Aligoté, and Melon de Bourgogne. May be labeled “Cru du Beaujolais”
Primary Soil Type: Decomposed granite comprises most of their eleven hectares
AOC Established: 1936 (last updated 2013)
Climate: Semi-continental with some temperate influences. The proximity of the Mediterranean Sea does impart some Mediterranean influence on the climate.
French Wince Scholar studying material
Court of Master Sommelier studying material
WSET studying material