Located between Burgundy and the Rhone Valley, Beaujolais is an oft-maligned and underappreciated fine wine region.  Gamay is the grape variety of importance here, and grown on the sandy clay over granite soils it can produce wines that are at once light and elegant, yet offer complexity and excellent depth of flavour.

There are more than 20,000 hectares planted in Beaujolais, on a vast range of soils and expositions, and as you would expect, quality and style of the resultant wines varies dramatically.

The most famous (unfortunately) example of Beaujolais is the terrifically-marketed ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’, set forth upon the world on the third Thursday of November following vintage (barely a couple of months earlier).  Not only is this wine of poor, uninteresting quality (generalising a little perhaps, but not unfairly), it is often more like alcoholic fruit juice than wine proper.  Much-maligned, and rightly so (for the most part).

Yet good Beaujolais can be a magnificent thing.  Elegant, ethereal even.  Complex, satisfying and even ageworthy. The vast majority of Beaujolais-Villages is bottled by negociants and merchants, and whilst it can be a decent drink, they rarely scale the heights of cru Beaujolais.

Cru Beaujolais – those bottled from the recognised best villages – is really where you want to be spending your Gamay dollar.  The best crus, such as Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, and Moulin-a-Vent, can produce fabulous wine, especially when in the care of quality-minded producers – most of whom are small, boutique makers – and many of which are pursuing natural, minimal-interventionist and organic/biodynamic methods in their quest to produce truly excellent wine.


Our top picks from Beaujolais



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