At Winerist, we’ve been tasting a lot of Beaujolais recently and have been reminded how exciting and varied the region is for wine choices. Saying you don’t like Beaujolais is a little like saying you love Chablis but hate Chardonnay these days (spoiler: Chablis is made with Chardonnay, just in case that’s still you), so if you’ve pooh-poohed it before, now is the time to think again. The nights are still long and often meals start earlier, so you don't always want to reach for those heavy Cabernets. You can plan a whole winter meal with red wines from Beaujolais, especially if it's après-ski time. So, hang up your skis, grab your faux reindeer fur wrap and tuck yourself away in your chalet. There really is something for everyone. Here's what you need to know and some of our favourites to try...
Join the Beaujolais Cru
The Beaujolais wine region, which lies just South of Burgundy, from Macon to Lyon, produces some fantastic red wines from the Gamay grape in lighter to medium-bodied styles. For cool winter nights, we’d recommend trying some of the ten Beaujolais ‘Cru’. Each Cru has its own personality and style are exactly what you would reach for if you wanted something complex and flavoursome but not too heavy. They are the highest quality wines in the region; a step up from straight Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages too. The ten Cru to look out for are Fleurie, Chiroubles, Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Here is a cross section of wines to try that will give you a real flavour of what Beaujolais can do:
The lightest, most classic style. Floral, elegant and fruity, with cherry and strawberry notes. This one is weightier than some with a fantastic, savoury edge that balances the florals beautifully. This is a great red choice for roast chicken with all the trimmings, lamb or lasagne. The relatively light body and alcohol won't give you the afternoon slumps either.
Sitting somewhere in between a Brouilly and a Morgon in terms of body, this Régnié has an extra point of interest in that it’s a natural wine. A vibrant, lovely version of Régnié with a moreish leafiness and savoury character. This is the kind of wine you want with a juicy burger, the more gamey, the better. For a Sunday pub lunch you can't go too far wrong with a Régnié.
Try: Morgon ‘Grand Cras’ Vielles Vignes, Laurent Gauthier, 2016 £18.95 from South Down Cellars
Heavier than Regnié, but not as much as a Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon feels the most like a Burgundian Pinot Noir, especially with age. This one has notes of stewed cherry compote with a cool, mineral finish. Try it with duck pancakes and plum sauce on a Friday night. It's a winner with a meaty pizza too.
Try: Xavier & Nicolas Barbet, Moulin-à-Vent, 2014, £15.99 from Hennings Wine
The most robust and tannic of Beaujolais styles. We’re not talking rugby players though; more well-toned athletes. This one makes you sit up and notice. Think grilled meat with redcurrant sauce. A fabulous food wine that can take heavier dishes such as roast lamb or even steak. It's also a match made in heaven with a cosy, mid-week shepherd's pie.
Alpine food and wine matches
Beaujolais Cru wines really come into their own with all those famous alpine dishes, whether you're hosting genuine, après-ski fare or recreating a chalet in your dining room. Try the lighter styles for a cheese fondue and the heavier Crus for a meat version. Perfect! If it's raclette you're after with potatoes, creamy cheese and meat, then Beaujolais is a match made in heaven. Try the Morgon; it won't be too heavy and it will stand up to the flavour, with enough fruit and aromatics to freshen everything up.
Want some more recommendations? Try these wines that would also work perfectly for winter feasts at home or in your snowy chalet. Want to go there yourself? Here are some tours you can do in the region. Cheers from Winerist!