Despite the popularity of the Beaujolais Nouveau tradition, Beaujolais is not just the name of one particular type of wine. It is, in fact, an entire region in France with a red, white and rose’ making history that spans centuries.
Many outside of France and some even just beyond Beaujolais only associate Beaujolais with Beaujolais Nouveau, the young wine that makes its debut every November, and is meant to be drunk right after harvest. But the right Beaujolais can be savored as well as aged .
Sadly many of the Gamay grapes used to make Beaujolais Nouveau are rushed off the vines before they are fully mature. They go through carbonic maceration, a process where the grapes at the bottom of the vat are crushed and the entire grape is fermented, instead of just the juice.
Often the juice has had barely enough time to convert to wine before it is bottled in bulk and shipped off to be consumed in as great quantities as possible for the celebration. The rushed production process results in many wines that are compromised in flavor, purity and quality as well as in any potential for aging.
The complexity and fresh fruit forward attributes of the Gamay grape, from which Beaujolais Nouveau and 96% of wines from Beaujolais are derived, never come through.
For a taste of different Beaujolais interpretations of the Gamay grape, pour one of these Crus and get a true sense of what this region has to offer. Drink them slightly chilled, preferably at a serving temperatures greater than that for white and rose’ and below that of red wine. The versatility of Beaujolais to pair with myriad cuisines and culinary flavors from grilled octopus and sweetbreads to duck and strawberry flan add to its potential to become a ubiquitous presence at the dining table.
The Christophe Pacalet, Moulin a Vent 2012 100% Gamay will appeal to wine drinkers who enjoy an aromatic and fruit forward wine with a pronounced berry freshness. The Chateau Fusse’, “Domaine de la Conseille’re, Julienas 2012 brings a beautiful violet and grape skin bouquet and sweet cherry notes to the table.
If you are looking for a fresh and fruit forward slightly chilled red wine that can also go the distance with added complexity given time in the cellar, Beaujolais Crus are the way to go.