Most of us have tried Beaujolais Nouveau over the years having either purchasing one ourselves or trying one over a holiday dinner party. It’s the simplest form of Beaujolais and it is made that way intentionally. The labels are colorful and fun and the juice tastes like it was made yesterday and it literally almost was! Beaujolais Nouveau is launched ceremoniously on the third Thursday of November and is often found on American family Thanksgiving tables. It’s super light, quaffable, and food-friendly and seems to go with almost all festive holiday foods. Beaujolais Nouveau Day this year is November 18th 2021.
Nouveau, Villages and Cru – what’s the difference?:
Most people have also tried the everyday wines labeled “Beaujolais” and “Beaujolais Villages”. Each is a step-up in quality over Nouveau and that is also intentional. All Beaujolais is made from 100% Gamay, which is a fruit-forward, light-bodied red grape varietal grown within the demarcated eponymous region in France just south of Burgundy and north of the Rhone valley. Next to Beaujolais Nouveau, the wines labeled simply “Beaujolais”, are the lowest of the quality tiers made within the region. The grapes can come from anywhere within the borders of Beaujolais region. The wines labeled “Beaujolais Villages” is a slight step up in quality – in theory – as it is made from a blend of grapes from any or all of the ten designated Cru villages within Beaujolais. What you likely may not know, however, is that there is a top tier of Beaujolais called Cru Beaujolais. These are wines made within each of the ten designated Cru villages. These wines can often rival wines from neighboring Burgundy (made from the regal Pinot Noir grape) in style and elegance and even longevity. Often experts can struggle with distinguishing the two in a blind tasting. The great news is that these “Crus” are typically reasonably priced, certainly, when compared to Burgundy.
If Burgundy, with its often hefty price tag, leaves you pining for something similar but more affordable, we believe a Cru Beaujolais is definitely worth a look. But how to find it on our shelves? Locate the French section in your favorite New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet and then look for the Beaujolais sign within that section; the Crus will be on the top two or three shelves. They should be the highest-priced wines in this section – but still not very high – and set in price order.
The Crus are named after the Villages themselves and do not typically say “Cru Beaujolais” on the label. So, keep this list handy and look for any of the villages listed below. They will always vary a little in style and body but they are also relatively similar tasting overall. Chiroubles is often thought of as the lightest of the Crus and Moulin-e-Vent the heaviest, but that is just a rough guide. Let your own taste tell you what’s right for you.
Fleurie, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly, Chiroubles, Julienas, Regnie, Chenas, Saint Amour.
We hope you will discover these hidden gems that perhaps, until now, have remained undiscovered for you!