The Other Beaujolais

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The Other Beaujolais

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivée. Or almost….

Each year the new vintage of the ‘new’ Beaujolais is unveiled on the third Thursday of November. It’s a date that has become somewhat of a global phenomenon in the past few decades thanks to some rather slick marketing which means that establishments from Shanghai to Sydney and San Francisco will all be popping corks in celebration of this red wine which was made from grapes harvested a mere two months ago.

Yet it’s fair to say that this very young, very light and very fruity drop is not to every wine lover’s taste.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2015Beaujolais Nouveau 2015
Beaujolais Nouveau 2015

In fact, in all my years supplying wine to yachts I’ve never seen Beaujolais Nouveau on a preference sheet.

Yet Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, is a variety that makes some very fine wines. After all, it’s the other red grape of Burgundy (Pinot Noir being the first, of course). And, if you move beyond Nouveau on the label, you’ll discover the impressive wines that do call the granite soils of Beaujolais, a wine region just north of Lyon, home.

Wines which not just offer great value for money but also ageing potential and an impressive versatility.

I’m taking about the ten ‘cru’ vineyards of Beaujolais. These sites, selected for their demonstrated quality, are a world apart from the wine the world will be celebrating on Thursday, November 19th. So much so that you wont find mention of Beaujolais nor Nouveau anywhere on the label.

Beaujolais’ ten cru vineyards boast some of the most poetic names in wine: Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgon, Chiroubles, Juliénas, Régnie, and the romantic Saint-Amour (which is incredibly popular mid February for some reason!)

Moulin à Vent 2009 : Hospices civils de Romanèche Thorins
Moulin à Vent 2009

Each boasts distinct characteristics, but as a general rule you can expect more full-bodied, complex wines that are often released a good year or two after harvest. Many have seen oak and can age for a decade or more, ever-evolving in the bottle.

Just like red wines from neighbouring Burgundy, these are wines which are best served around 58°F/14-15°C, although a decanter is rarely needed. Beaujolais is a classic match with a plate of French charcuterie, however as you become acquainted with the ten crus their individual characters come into play; the lighter cru villages such Fleurie and Chiroubles can take a bit of chilling and are one of those wonderful red wines you can match to meatier fish such as tuna and salmon. The heavier cru villages such as Morgan and Moulin-à-Vent work a treat with rich red meat dishes and are a great alternative when a red Burgundy would generally be served.

So next time you’re looking for something a little different for your luxury yacht charter, why not take the time to taste the other Beaujolais?

The monthly wine blog for Bespoke Yacht Charter is written by Chrissie McClatchie, an Australian freelance wine professional and writer who has been selling fine wine to superyachts since her arrival in Nice in 2007. Today she also teaches WSET wine courses and conducts guided visits through Nice’s AOC Bellet.

Fleurie Gamay