The Beaujolais region is made up of 55,000 acres, which is more than the three other regions of Burgundy combined. The grapes planted throughout this region are almost exclusively Gamay, with very small amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Beaujolais itself is split in two by the Nizerand River -To the North is Haut-Beaujolais with light soil. This produces the Beaujolais-Villages wines. South of the river are the Bas-Beaujolais.
Beaujolais is very fruity, light, and easy to drink wine. With typical aromas of banana, pear, and like smells. Because of its easy drinkability, there is a lot of cheap, jug wine produced. On the other hand, the Crus produce fine quality, crafted wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is the very first wine of the season, which is always ready on the Third Thursday of November each year. The locals treat this as a celebration, and all get together to taste the first Beaujolais of the new season.
The first cultivation in the region of Beaujolais was thought to have been done by the Romans, who planted vines up and down the trading route along the Saone valley. In the 7th century and up until the middle ages most of the harvesting and wine making in the area was carried out by the Benedictine monks. In the 10th century the Beaujolais region got its name from the town of Beaujeu and was then ruled, until the 15th century by the “Lords of Beaujeu”. The area was then taken over by the Duke of Burgundy. Up until the expansion of the French rail system into the area wines produced in Beaujolais were mainly traded locally in the markets along the Rhone and Saone rivers. The opening of the rail system gave Beaujolais wines access to the huge Paris market and saw a huge increase in production and sales.
The Beaujolais region can be found South of Burgundy in between Lyon and Macon. This bustling wine making region is 9 miles wide and stretches 34 miles in length and cultivates a huge amount of grapes, almost 55,000 acres!
Beaujolais climate is temperate, being reasonably close to the Mediterranean it experiences warm dry summers, but it is far enough away to experience cold dry weather when it comes from the North east.
In the Southern part of the Beaujolais region the soils are mainly clay and limestone, which tend to produce lighter, more supple wines. While in the North the soils are more stone and clay based with granite being prevalent on the upper slopes. This area tends to produce the sturdy, firm Beaujolais.
Beaujolais wines are often found to contain lots of youthful fruit. These wines tend to be light bodied, low in tannins, and have a refreshing amount of acidity. These very easy drinking wines pair well with fish and poultry. Because of its high acidity this wine can contrast well with fatty or oily foods.