As 2018 slowly comes to an end, the internet becomes flooded with predictions about “fresh” wine trends in the upcoming year. Usually, these forecasts are based on the revival of well-known or underappreciated regions and/or grapes. Such is Beaujolais, a mid-sized AOC in eastern France known for wines made of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc (or simply, Gamay). Now, without cheating, write down three things you know about Beaujolais (you can leave a comment below or just write it on a piece of paper). Done? Ok.
I’m guessing you scribbled down – Beaujolais Nouveau, light, fruity. I don’t blame you, because that’s Beaujolais. Well, sort of. Like all underdogs, Gamay was severely underappreciated and overshadowed by Pinot Noir for decades. How dare it want to share the glorious slopes of Cote d’Or with the king?! As it goes, the prices of prestigious wines grew, so more and more people turned to the bistro for comfort. Here, Beaujolais got its spotlight, not just as a quaffable, inexpensive wine, but also as an exquisite expression of the countryside it was produced in. With the birth of France’s appellation system in 1936, things started to pick up and crus appeared. It was obvious that Beaujolais was heading towards significance, which set the scene for the godfather – Georges Dubœuf. In the 1970s, he commercialized the region with his new venture, Beaujolais Nouveau. Was this a good move? Well, yes and no. Yes, because more people started giving one or two fucks about Beaujolais, especially the Americans, who were at the time massively jumping on the French wine bandwagon. No, because Nouveau was heavily degrading the true quality of wines produced here (more on the whys below). Not wanting their beloved region to get lost in the sea of forgotten hopes and dreams, the pillars of natural winemaking assembled. Following mad scientist Jules Chavet, vignerons such as Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Paul Thévenet and Jean Foillard turned to organic farming, high-quality winemaking and most importantly, to sense of place or terroir. They refurbished the image of Beaujolais, setting crus (Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent – to name a few) as foundations of quality. Continue reading “House Pour: A Real Guide to Beaujolais”