Beaujolais is a fantastic French wine region known for Gamay, a thin skinned, low tannic varietal that produces some of the best wines. There is a common misconception in the consumer space, and many know Beaujolais as the fun and fresh Beaujolais Nouveau they drink annually, but there is so much more to this French region for winemaking!
Sustainability has always been important, however now, more than ever it’s becoming something people are seeking in the wine industry. Beaujolais aims to achieve high performance production systems with respect to the environment, as well as economics, and more. They maintain and are reintroducing biodiversity through the area by preserving soil life and water quality. Throughout the region of Beaujolais, there are 10 Cru appellations that have become the leaders of sustainable practices, where hundreds of wineries are now certified through one or more of the five qualifications it takes to be considered sustainable.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re looking for wines that are producing more sustainable wines, and haven’t yet explored Beaujolais yet, now is a great time to get on your wine tasting game!
Beaujolais stretches from the foothills of the Massif Central to the Saone river plain. These make up what you see as the rolling hills and plains of Beaujolais; it’s beautiful. I had the pleasure of visiting the region back in 2011, after Sommelier school. We went on a day trip, and it was just stunning. The wine-growing area is about 67 square miles and what makes this area so unique is the coexistence of different types of terrain, microclimates, and granite soils. This certainly lends structure as well as minerality and depth to the wines.
There are various areas to Beaujolais, including: Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais Crus, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas, and Saint-Amour. I don’t expect you to remember all of those, but it’s important you know that there is more to Beaujolais then light bodied, fruity wines. There is structure, beauty, and a sophistication to Beaujolais as well.
I had a lot of fun recently at a lunch led by Erik Segelbaum, Advanced Sommelier and owner of Somlyay. I have taken his master classes on Israel virtually, and was so thrilled to meet him in person and attend a lunch led by him. La Mercerie is one of the restaurants he opened, where he put Beaujolais by the glass on the menu.
“Grab a bottle of Beaujolais, it’s going to work”- Erik Segelbaum.
This is very true for pairing Beaujolais with different styles of cuisines. I love these wines with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. I can drink Gamay almost anytime of day, and almost always have a bottle or two in my wine fridge. We began our lunch with Leeks and Curry Vinaigrette paired with a 2018 White Beaujolais, a 2019 Rosé, and a 2018 Red. The Jean-Marc Burgaud white went beautifully. Made from 100% Chardonnay, from the Beaujolais Villages area, this style of white wines from Beaujolais is one that should come back to restaurants. It’s a wine that for Burgundy lovers, it would be appealing as well! The Domaine de la Prébende rosé is 100% Gamay and was one of my absolute favorites. I happen to love these wines from Beaujolais, and it was also an insanely hot day so being greeted with a chilled glass of heaven was just perfect. With the Leeks it paired so nicely, bringing out more minerality in the wine, and playing beautifully with the curry.
Our main course was paired with three incredible reds from Beaujolais. We enjoyed Black Sea Bass with Tomato Concaseé, and Fresh Herbs. Red wines used to have a misconception of not pairing well with fish, but when done right, they actually can pair very well. I love Beaujolais and fish together because these wines can be lighter, fun, and fruity. These reds were from three different appellations of Beaujolais, including Régnié, Fleurie, and Moulin-à-Vent. They all paired incredibly well with the sea bass and would also easily pair with Italian dishes such as Cacio e Pepe and Truffles (something we discussed during lunch). The fruit, purity, and brightness make these wines incredibly food friendly, especially because they’re lower in tannin, have nice acidity, and bright fruit.
For those looking to explore more French wine regions and haven’t had a glass of Beaujolais yet, I highly recommend it. Not only will you love the wines, but they are insanely affordable and high quality, so now’s a good time to start buying and trying!
Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly!