• Lorelei Helmke

1er Cru Beaujolais Personalities

Originally published January 2015

The holidays are over and the New Year has begun. No doubt, you have spent some time reflecting on what you need to give up to make 2015 better than 2014 - the dreaded New Year’s Resolution.

We all do it, eliminate sugar, cut down on caffeine, cut down our alcohol consumption, spend less time watching TV and more at the gym. While these are all noble plans, I have a better idea. Let’s resolve to add something to our lives, new experiences, new knowledge, and new wines. Well, maybe not “new” wines, but possibly new to you. Some of the oldest wines in the world are new to most of us here in the US, and one of those wines is Beaujolais Cru.

I’m not talking about Beaujolais Nouveaux, the light styled red wine that you may have sipped at Thanksgiving, or were pressured into buying at your local wine merchant. (The 2014 is supposed to all be consumed by now) I’m speaking of the best Beaujolais, Beaujolais Cru. It is lush and rich, elegant and bold, earthy and succulent, all in one bottle. Beaujolais Nouveaux can not be made from Beaujolais Cru - it is a very different wine.

Allow me to introduce you to wonderful Beaujolais Cru:

Beaujolais is located just south of Burgundy. It is a small region, encompassing a mere 67 square miles. A picturesque place with rolling hills of green spotted with places where the limestone, granite and volcanic soils are exposed to the naked eye. Dirt roads connect the many small townships that are perfectly manicured with a very French style. Church steeples dot the landscape, and the windmill at Moulin-à-Vent graces the vineyards there.

Beaujolais produces only Gamay and does so in many different ways. The terroir (a french term used to describe the soils and climate) is so varied that Beaujolais Cru can possess floral and mineral note with a medium-light body, as well as dark brooding colors with rich aromas of dark cherries and wet earth. One thing Beaujolais Cru always is though, is seductive.

Within that 67 square miles, France has designated 10 smaller areas as the very best places for Beaujolais to grow - this is Beaujolais Cru. Each region produce a very distinct wine with its own aromas, textures and flavors. Some are meant to be aged, some can be drunk straight away, but all have a beautifully seductive nature you are sure to love.

10 Beaujolais Crus - from North to South:

• St. Amour - Its best wines have a mineraly and fruit that is as seductive as the name suggests. The mineral is derived form the limestone that it shares with Burgundy’s Pouilly-Fuissé.

- Pairs well with roasted poultry and feathered game, whitening and pheasant.

• Juliénas - Produces a typically full bodied wine that can be rustic at times.

- Fabulous with au vin or other country styled meals.

• Chénas - Comprises only one square mile and produces themes sought after wines that need a few years in bottle to achieve perfection.

- Pairs beautifully with mature cheeses and red meats.

• Moulin-à-Vent - The highest rated of all Beaujolais Cru. Usually a full-bodied red with complex fruit and floral aromas.

- Try with roasted meats, wild game and mature cheeses

• Fleurie - Elegant and refined, Fleurie produces graceful wines from pinkish granite. They are aromatic and age well.

- More feminine styled wine that goes great with pâtes, white meats and creamy sauces.

• Chiroubles - From light, sandy soils, Chiroubles wines are gentle yet lively. The wines are more typical of Beaujolais, red fruits and light floral aromas. They can be tart in cooler vintages.

- Perfect for roasted pork and appetizers.

• Morgon - Volcanic soils are rich with manganese and produces a full-bodied, meaty wine with deep garnet colors and ripe red fruit flavors.

- Great with stews and meats with sauce and wild game - venison chili.

• Brouilly - The most powerful wines of Beaujolais come from Brouilly as well as 20% of all Beaujolais Cru production. The wines lend themselves more to fruit that floral.

- Try with roasted wild game and red meat dishes.

• Côte de Brouilly - Located on the hillside of Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly wines are more elegant, offering Crus that are well worth aging.

- Pairs well with roasted pork, other meats and perfect with slow cooked stews.

• Régnié - The pink granite and mineral rich terrain of this one square mile of vineyards produce a lighter styled wine rich with raspberry and red currant notes. There is typically good mineralogy and spice in these wines.

- As with Fleurie, this wine goes well with pâtes, roasted poultry and creamy sauces.

I had an opportunity to try wines from all 10 Crus last year at one tasting. What amazed me was the variances in each wine. That all of the wines were made from the same grape and all grown within this small 67 square miles shows the grapes ability to showcase the earth from which it came.

Shopping for Beaujolais Cru in our area reveals a nice selection. You can easily find selections from Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent. The bottles will prominently display the name of the region on the label. The region is the focal point and the producer is secondary. The pricing is pleasant as well, Beaujolais Crus start around the $17 and go up from there.

Beaujolais Cru is a perfect style of wine for our Texas climate, each one as unique as each Texan. As I stated earlier, many of them pair beautifully with the wild game that is so popular here. I do recommend a slight chill be placed on the bottle prior to serving to ensure that the brilliant acidities shine through, which makes it all the more perfect for drinking in Texas.

I do hope you will seek out and enjoy a bottle or two of Beaujolais Cru this month. I will introduce you to another unsuspected and surprising wine next time. Finding new wines is the best New Year’s resolution of all, and one that is more easily kept.

Happy New Year!


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