A new cohort of wine lovers is getting acquainted with the soft, gorgeous flavours of well-made Gamay.

From humble AOC Beaujolais through Beaujolais-Villages to the firmer, almost Burgundian feel of some of the Beaujolais ‘cru’ wines, there are some very classy, approachable, fruity wines to be sampled. Many keep well too, with Chénas, Juliénas and Fleurie all drinking well into their third year while Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon often need time to even start to show their full potential. Saint-Amour, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly and Regnié produce delicious, earlier drinking wines and high-up Chiroubles some of the finest. Beaujolais Nouveau, made exclusively by carbonic maceration, is making a small comeback. A small amount of Beaujolais Blanc is made from Chardonnay, and there’s Beaujolais Rosé too!


Beaujolais & Villages
Humble perhaps, well priced certainly, these are the ‘starting point’ wines from the outlying vineyards stretching back up the hillsides. There are a couple of useful points to remember with these lovely wines. Gamay, the only black grape used in the region, is inherently soft, juicy and fruity. It should be top of the list if you dislike the firm or furry structure of more tannic grapes. Beaujolais Nouveau may take this to an extreme! Top négociant Jean Loron of Pontanevaux covers the Mâconnais and Beaujolais, bottling some wines under the Jacques Charlet label. Rémi Benon’s Beaujolais Village is more serious, while we recently discovered the superb wines of Nicolas Chemarin right up in the granite hills of Marchampt.

Fleurie & the Crus
Each individual 'cru' surrounds its identifying village, yet all are bound together by that soft and supple, juicy-fruited, easy-drinking style. Most of the cru wines are made with juicy softness as their goal. Saint-Amour in the northern part is the simplest, Trichard making a typically juicy style. Fleurie has more depth, but still tends to be pretty, charming even. Michel Tête in Juliénas and Rémi Benon in Chénas make wines with more depth, while Laurent Guillet produces fabulous Morgons. For the most ageworthy, choose Moulin-à-Vent; Louis Boillot’s wine is the more ‘Burgundian’ in style, that of Evelyne Janodet a bit more traditional. We sometimes have an old vine Fleurie from Domaine de la Madone and a Côte de Brouilly from Nicole Chanrion, both of which are worth keeping for a year or two. In 2009 Mattieu Melinand returned to run the family winery, Domaine des Marrans in Fleurie, after a stint in both New Zealand and Australia where he developed his considerable winemaking talent and returned with fresh ideas to enhance their excellent Beaujolais Crus.