A tour of Beaujolais

Off of last week's Beaujolais Nouveau extravaganza, this week we're going a bit deeper into the region.

I'm not going to rehash everything that I've gone over in my Beaujolais Region Guide before talking about this week's producers, but I will take a minute to talk a bit about non-red wines from the Beauj.

So administratively Beaujolais is part of Burgundy, and you can make AOC Bourgogne in Beaujolais. Much of the Crémant de Bourgogne (our local Beaujolais) comes from Beaujolais. Still, the vast majority of plantings are of Gamay.

The white that is grown is Chardonnay, but it really makes up very little of the total wine made here.

This week I've given you a magnificent white that really rivals a Burgundian wine.

Domaine JG Chasselay Eparcieux Blanc

I've talked a lot about Claire Chasselay, she's a winemaker I really admire, and this white is no exception. She makes very little of it, so it's only available for a short window each year pretty much right after bottling. I tried to buy 2 cases, but her brother could only give me one!

This is classic Burgundian style oaked Chardonnay, and it really is fabulous. Half of it undergoes MLF, or Malolactic Fermentation, a process that converts malic acid (sharp, apple like acid) into lactic acid (creamy, yogurty acid). This means the wine gets that butteriness but it also retains some real sharpness too.

It spends 12 months in oak barrels where it spends time on its yeast, which gives it more creaminess and savoriness. This is proper wine!

Fabien Forest Volcanic Beaujolais - Lantignié

Next we have Fabian Forest, a winemaker I met over the summer while he was delivering wines to Odessa Comptoir, a great wine bar in the 1st.

Fabian grew up on the slopes above Beaujeu in the Lantignié village, which is pretty steep and faces almost due South (great for sun). He's pretty young and new in his own operation, but I thing these are good examples of tiny production Beaujolais, and a new breed of winemaker who is scaling down.

His vines are old, gnarly, and organic. He's doing minimal intervention, and I think they're very good.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent

This is pretty fancy stuff, this team are trying to compete with Burgundy in a real way, and they're doing a great job. I think these are very fine wines indeed, that are quite powerful.

This is a swish operation with a very high tech winery, working on converting to organic viticulture. They have a lovely little castle with a delightful view of Mont Blanc on a clear day, and make a handful of single vineyard wines as well.

Each parcel is vinified separately, so winemaker Brice can really get the best out of each specific plot. It's pretty amazing, they have so many different tanks of different sizes, according to parcel!

20% of this sees aging in oak, giving the wine some extra complexity.

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