Beaujolais: Beyond the clichés09-05-2017
Known the world over for its Beaujolais Nouveau, this French region is packed with delicious, high quality and great value wines, especially its “Cru” – top growths – wines.
Beaujolais: Who are you?
The quintessential wine for spring, Beaujolais has a light, bright floral aroma and the soft tannins of the Gamay grape variety. It is an AOC (Appellation d’Origin Contrôlée) produced in the northern section of the Rhône Valley and some hectares in the Saône and Loire regions. It almost exclusively comprises the Gamay grape for red wines and Chardonnay for white wines, with the latter representing just 3% of the total production. Generally known as the third river of Lyon or the vineyards of Lyon, the Beaujolais region boasts many different types of landscape, making its wines equally diverse in character. The 12 AOC appellations are perfect examples of this diversity.
Yet the wine best known around the world is, of course, Beaujolais Nouveau. It is always consumed on the 3rd Thursday of November, every year, and is the symbol of festivity. However, the region comprises many other appellations, mainly producing red wine. In 2015, exports accounted for 40% of total sales, a sector well supported by sales of Beaujolais Nouveau. The largest market for Beaujolais wines is Japan, with more than 7 million bottles consumed, followed by the United States (6 million bottles) and the United Kingdom (5 million bottles).
The Twelve Appellations
Generally listed in order, the wines following the course of the River Saône, beginning with the 10 Crus. From south to north: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas and Saint-Amour, which marks the northern border of the Beaujolais region. AOC Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages are located on the outskirts. From the cherry aromas of Saint-Amour, to the fruity notes of Juliénas or floral perfume of Chénas, each wine offers a distinct and delicious flavour. And while we openly acknowledge the exceptional ageing potential of the wines of Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie’s elegance, Chiroubles’ charm, Régnié’s finesse or the racy character of the two Brouilly wines, it would be taking nothing away from any of these Cru wines to say that Morgon is the queen of the Beaujolais region. As for the wines of Beaujolais-Villages, they are perfectly balanced and ideal for sharing at any celebration or festive occasion. Finally, Beaujolais wines produced in 72 communes have a reputation for being great to drink all year round.
Party time for Beaujolais
Every year, from April to May, the 10 Beaujolais crus come together to celebrate tapping into the barrel for the first time. In other words, the first opportunity to draw tasting samples of the wines from the barrel. The 10 regions take it in turns to organise this gathering, which has an open, friendly and country-style atmosphere. The “host Cru” takes centre stage, though its neighbouring wines are always on the guest list. This year, it’s the turn of Juliénas to play host. Every year, 20,000 visitors take part in the event which is also an occasion to taste all the other Beaujolais Cru wines.
Did you know?
Saint-Amour, with its evocative name, is the favourite appellation of lovers the world over. The region produces a special St Valentine’s cuvee every year, with 20 – 25% of the production consumed on the big day, both in France and abroad.
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Crunchy boudin and apple parcels and herb salad. Best served with a Beaujolais Cru wine
Serves 4 :
- 2 Pink Lady apples
- 50g butter
- 600g boudin or black pudding
- Fresh herbs: chervil, dill, tarragon, flat leaf parsley and chives
- 1 radicchio salad
- 4 sheets filo pastry
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Sel, poivre
Peel the apples and cut into quarters, removing the core. Gently fry in butter.
Divide the black pudding into 4 x 150g portions and then cut each in half.
Prepare the herb salad with the chervil, dill, tarragon and flat leaf parsley. Chop the chives into 3-4 cm lengths and cut the radicchio into fine shreds to form a chiffonade.
Place a sheet of filo pastry on each plate, add 2 pieces of black pudding in the shape of a “T”, and place a slice of apple on each side.
Fold the top section of the pastry towards the centre and repeat on each side to make a parcel.
Gently fry the parcels in butter in a frying-pan for approx. 10 minutes.
Transfer the parcels to each plate, season the salad with vinaigrette and use to garnish the parcels.
This recipe is courtesy of the Bouchon des filles restaurant, 20 Rue Sergent Blandan Ancienne Voie du Rhin, 69001 Lyon