Beaujolais is the southernmost wine region of Burgundy and is actually part of the Burgundy wines Beaujolais . is probably best known for its «Beaujolais Nouveau, released in November each year. The launch of Beaujolais Nouveau is almost like a festive New Year's celebration for wine buffs around the world because it is the first wine to "call in" a new year for sales since the Beaujolais Nouveau is sold already 2 months after the harvest. But Beaujolais is much more than Beaujolais Nouveau. There are both white and red wines that are highly qualitative. In Beaujolais, it’t the Gamay grape which rules. What Cabernet Sauvignon is for Bordeaux and what pinot noir is for Burgundy - it's what Gamay is for Beaujolais.
The Gamay grape makes light and fruity wine that is perfect for an aperitif and suit to simpler, cold dishes such as cured meats and cheeses. There are exceptions, such as Saint-Amour and Moulin-à-Vent which are powerful and full-bodied red wines. The classification of the Beaujolais wines is not particularly complicated. There are two regional appellations (AOP) and 10 communal appellations which have received their own names since the wines have been considered to have special features and high quality.
The two regional appellations AOP are:
- AOP Beaujolais: it is the name of the wines from the south of Beaujolais, the part closest to the city of Lyon. About half of the total Beaujolais production comes from here and it represents 75% of the Beaujolais Nouveau wines. Mainly red and rosé wines are produced here, but there are also white wines made from Chardonnay grapes.
- AOP Beaujolais Villages: it's 38 municipalities in the northern Beaujolais who joined together to create its own appellation "Villages". The wines here are similar to the communal appellations which are described below.
- The 10 communal appellations: 10 villages in Beaujolais have been given their own appellation, or their own name. The names are Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Côte-de-Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour which together are often called "the Beaujolais Crus." Despite the fact that all these "Crus" use the same grape variety, Gamay, the wines have different flavors depending on where they come from.
Below follows what is generally considered to be the characteristics of the different wines of Beaujolais:
- Juliénas: Peach
- Saint-Amour: Reseda (mignonette)
- Moulin-à-vent: violet
- Chénas: Peony flowers
- Fleurie: Roses, iris and mignonette
- Morgon: Cherry and Sherry
- Côte-de-Brouilly: blueberries
- Brouilly: Plums and grapes
- Chiroubles: violet