A Fall Day in Beaujolais #Winophiles

The French #Winophiles Pay a November Visit to Beaujolais
Beaujolais is one of those enigmatic French wine regions. Well known for Nouveau Beaujolais, most wine lovers know almost nothing else about the region and the wines. Join our French #Winophiles group as we delve into the wonders of the Beaujolais!

I recently had the opportunity to spend an impromptu day in the Beaujolais with our cousins Kay and Roland who live in Lyon. What a treat! Come with us as we make a quick visit to Lyon’s “home” wine region. If you’re a café in Lyon (or Paris for that) the odds are better than 50/50 that Beaujolais is the house red wine. And it’s absolutely delicious!

beaujolais map courtesy of discoverbeaujolais.com

Beaujolais wine region, courtesy of discoverbeaujolais.com

Brief History of the Rebel Beaujolais
Beaujolais is an enigma. Wine and Spirits Magazine included Beaujolais in their October issue with the “Best of Burgundy”. The Bourgogne Wines website covers the Cotes d’Or, Cotes Chalonnaise and the Maconnaise. But Beaujolais? Nope. It’s variously described as the southernmost part of Burgundy, or a northern outpost of the Rhone. Let’s just let it stand on its’ own.

Beaujolais vineyards

Hilly and friendly, the Beaujolais deserves our attention

I think of the Beaujolais as that rowdy cousin who is rough around the edges, but underneath has a heart of gold. You just need to ignore the burps and bad jokes and look for the true nature within. Beaujolais has a fascinating history, true to the black sheep of the family reputation:

  • Decried as too cheap, too easy and not sufficiently elegant, in 1395 Gamay grapes are thrown out of Burgundy by the Duke of the region. Relegated to the inferior soils (for Pinot and Chardonnay) south of Bourgogne.
  • Gamay loves schist, granite, and Pierres Dorées (ochre stone) soils and flourishes, albeit as a poor cousin of the noble grapes just to the north
  • On its’ own, Beaujolais doesn’t get much respect. In the 19th century, a modest tradition of sending freshly fermented wines to Lyon and Paris cafés in November of the vintage begins a small “Nouveau Beaujolais” tradition
  • In the 1980’s Georges Debœuf, a large, savvy negociant capitalizes on the Nouveau Beaujolais movement and turns it into a worldwide marketing event. Demand goes through the roof!
  • Predictably, with demand skyrocketing, supplies fall behind and quality suffers greatly. This included an incident mixing in outside wines and wines from other vintages. Also predictably, the Nouveau Beaujolais market flags.
  • More recently, interest has grown in the northern section of Beaujolais, with the promotion of the 10 Cru’s. Even outside the Cru’s, the Beaujolais offers delicious and affordable wines.

Visit to Chateau Buffavent
Chateau Buffavent is located in the southern part of the Beaujolais, in the region known as Pierres Dorées, for the ochre colored stone found in the area. Many estates and even buildings in Lyon are made from this distinctive colored stone. Our cousins are friends of the winegrowers, and they were willing to host us on All Saints’ Day.

The commercial reality for winegrowers in the lowly Beaujolais (not a Cru or even Village) is that most of their grapes or freshly made wine go to a negociant such as Georges Debœuf, as the negociant has the size and marketing power to efficiently offer inexpensive wines to an international market.  Chateau Buffavent has some estate delineated wines marketed through Debœuf.  They do reserve about 10% of their total production for marketing directly through the Vignerons Independents and from their winery.

(click on any photo to start slide show, escape to return)

Gites at Chateau Buffavent
Ever want to stay in an 18th century estate in the middle of the vineyards? This is your chance, stay at Chateau Buffavent! For the price of a typical hotel room, you could stay here.

Off to Lunch in Oingt
Traveling in France, we enjoy sampling both the traditional local homestyle dishes as well as the gastronomic interpretations of regional foods. Today we chose an up & coming gastronomic restaurant perched on a hilltop in the town of Oingt. Top local wines on the wine list are 30€; we’re not in Bourgogne any more!

 

Fellow #Winophiles Musings on Beaujolais

Join our chat live on Saturday Nov. 19 at 10am CST.  Just enter #winophiles in your Twitter search and join our conversation! After the chat, visit our blogs to dive into a Beaujolais visit.

Resources for Planning Your Beaujolais Trip
Planning a trip yourself gives you something to look forward to, and brings you a closer understanding of the region before you arrive. Here are some useful links:

beaujolais_visit-20161101-125

Comments
5 Responses to “A Fall Day in Beaujolais #Winophiles”
  1. Wow! Great post Jeff. Thanks for sharing this great experience. It put a smile on my face!

  2. A great walk through your day. Thank you Jeff.

  3. Jill Barth says:

    Oh goodness, so heavenly! I just adore this day…and the photos are exquisite. Thanks for sharing these recommendations. Always planning our next trip. Cheers!

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