Do you know how it is being produced and what the differences are between regions and types of the wines?
30 August 2015| Last updated on 26 October 2017
Let me tell you a bit about the French wines based on the example of Beaujolais region this time so you can start exploring more yourself. Let’s focus on the Beaujolais wines. The main characteristics of the region and its wine are as follows:
- The wines are being produced from a thin skinned Gamay grapes, which have to be handpicked (that’s the local obligation).
- The wine making method is unique and specific for those types of grapes and cannot be found in other French wine regions. It is called ‘carbonic maceration’. It means that the whole grapes are being places in the tank. The top layers of grapes crushes the lower layers of grapes and those start to give the juice which starts to ferment. It creates CO2 gas, which forces the oxygen out of the tank. Further fermentation takes place without any oxygen in the tank. This causes a biochemical form of fermentation to begin inside the grape berry, which explodes! After a short period of around 4-8 days, the juice is racked off and the remaining juice is pressed from the skins (the ‘hard press’), then the two are blended together. From this moment the typical for regular wines fermentation will start. It is a very complicated but rewarding process with such good quality and tasty wines!
There are 3 Classifications of Beaujolais wine:
- Beaujolais AOC, which produces easy to drink wine, usually chilled when being served. It contains refreshing acidity and little tannin. Beaujolais Nouveau comes from this area, which is the biggest one of the Beaujolais and have 96 wine making villages.
- Beaujolais Villages AOC - the 38 official “Village” wines, which produce the wines deeper and darker in colour thanks to the mineral elements in its soil.
- Beaujolais Crus, which is a real Crème de la crème of Beaujolais! There are 10 Crus of Beaujolais, all in the north and producing only very high quality of wines. Each Cru has its own personality and produces different types of wine but we cannot say which is better, all depends on the producer and the style of wine making they use.
The 10 Crus of Beaujolais and the types of wine they produce:
It is the most northerly of the ten Beaujolais cru areas, it produces 2 styles of wine: a light, fruity, floral one that shows notes of violet and peach and a bigger, spicier version that becomes more ‘pinot’-like with about 5 years of aging. Its wines are medium bodied and in need of a few years in the cellar before consuming. Saint-Amour's vineyards produces large quantity of white wine.
It covers the ancient Roman vineyard sites, which are located on granite, volcanic soils. The Cru produces the kind that is very powerful in taste, which should be kept bottled for few years. The Juliénas wines have floral accents with a bit of spiciness (mainly cinnamon is common there).
3. Chénas - “Bouquet of Flowers in a Velvet Basket”
It is the smallest and rarest of the Crus. Long time ago the Chénas hillsides were covered with the ancient oak forests. This had an effect on wines quality, which nowadays have a lovely ‘woody’ flavour. They are ones of the heaviest in Beaujolais. But also when they are young they are known for their floral aromas—rose, iris, plus silky tannins. Chenas and Moulin-a-Vent are the most respected Beaujolais cru wines.
4. Moulin-à-Vent “The King of Beaujolais”
It is the most famous, well known cru of all 10. Its soil is rich in manganese and consists of the pink granite and soft flaky quartz. Manganese is actually toxic to grapevines and that results in deeper, more intensely flavoured wines. These are the most tannic and full-bodied wines, which are the best example of the wine that should age up to 10 years.
5. Fleurie “The Queen of Beaujolais”
Fleuri is another best-known Beaujolais regions, which is famous for its feminine quality. This means that the wines are lighter in style and highly aromatic with the roses, iris and violet, along with some ripe red fruits and peach. Delicious!
6. Chiroubles “Classic Beaujolais”
It is situated in the southwest of Fleurie. It is the smallest, the coolest and the highest located areas of the ten Beaujolais crus. It is the cru where the harvesting starts the latest each year. The Chiroubles wines are silky, delicate, elegant and lighter bodied with the aromas of peaches, raspberry mixed with Lily of the Valley and baking spices.
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It is the second largest of the crus and represents 6 ‘climat’ and 6 different styles. Its soil is weathered, made of granite and schist, with some volcanic influences. It is rich in iron. The wines produced here have a unique earthy depth. When they are young they are full of peach, apricot, cherry and plum flavours but they also should be kept bottled for 5-10 years.
It is the newest of the cru and located in the southwest of Fleurie. It produces lighter bodied wines with a lot of peach, cherry, black currant and raspberry aromas. There are around 120 winegrowers in the Regnie region and many of them practise organic growing methods.
9. Côte de Brouilly “Elegant Wine on the Hill”
It is a subsection of Brouilly Cru located in the Mount Brouilly. This land has a volcanic soil, which results in production of wines of a unique flavour and delicate.
This is the biggest and most southern of all the cru. It’s the area with a bit warmer temperatures and unique ‘terroir’. These wines are not recommended for long aging. Brouilly is the only one cru which allows up to 15% of other grapes added to the wine. This results in the production of the lightest wines with the fruity aromas of jammy plum, strawberry, red currants and peach.
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