French Wine 101 – Beaujolais and Provençal Rosé

French Wine 101: Beaujolais and Provençal Rosé
As we move into the summer, you’ll need some warm weather wines to drink. Of course, white wines are a natural, so let’s add Beaujolais as a great warm weather red wine, and this is France, so it’s time to learn about rosé.

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Wine 101 Series
This is one of a series of posts aimed at newcomers to wine with interest but a modest checkbook.

Previous Posts

A Few Simple Rules

  • Just the facts, no flowery language
  • Key types of wine from a region
  • Some help in navigating the wine shop

Budget

  • < 10€ in a shop in Europe
  • <$20 per bottle in the US in a wine shop or grocery store
  • 2-3x the wine shop price if you’re ordering off the winelist in a restaurant – ouch.

Beaujolais

beaujolais map courtesy of discoverbeaujolais.com

Beaujolais wine region, Beaujolais in the south, Beaujolais Village in the center, and Cru Beaujolais in the north. Map courtesy of discoverbeaujolais.com

Beaujolais Fast Facts

  • Beaujolais is mostly known for its red wines, although a bit of white and even sparkling wines are made here.
  • Beaujolais is the red headed stepchild of the wine regions of central France. Some consider it part of Burgundy, except Burgundy certainly does NOT. It could also be considered the most northerly part of the Rhone, NOPE.
  • Because it is so overlooked, even the top wines are very affordable, great news for the budget wine enthusiast!
  • For more info, go to Discover Beaujolais

Budget Beaujolais (<$20 per bottle in the US)
Label – Like many French wine regions, there is a quality “pyramid” for Beaujolais. Wines labeled “Beaujolais” are the base: nice, enjoyable everyday red wines. “Beaujolais Villages” are the next step up, made from grapes grown in higher quality soil types and on slopes.  Finally, the top of the pyramid are the “Cru Beaujolais” wines. In typical confusing French tradition, they are not labeled Beaujolais anymore, but they are named for the village. (villages listed below) In the US, many of the Cru Beaujolais wines will be above $20, however, in a well stocked shop, you should be able to find at least one under $20.  And these are the top wines of the region!

Wine – Beaujolais wine is pale in color, still translucent red. It will be bone dry, and show tart red fruit with refreshing acidity and light tannins. As you move from basic Beaujolais up into Cru Beaujolais, you’ll move toward more deeply flavored wines, but none are big bruisers. In summer, it will take a slight chill very well, and pairs with a wide array typical summer dishes.

Food – With a bit of a chill, Beaujolais can easily go with almost anything made on the grill, ranging from fish to chicken, even steak. With low tannins, it will also hang in with spicy foods.

In the Wine Shop
Advice to help you in the wine shop:

  • There are thousands of bottles of wine from hundreds of regions.  Go in the shop with a plan: I am looking for a “Beaujolais Villages”, under $20. 9,000 bottles in this shop mean nothing to me.
  • Unless it is November 20 (3rd Thursday of November), do NOT buy a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau.  It is the freshly made wine from this vintage, it is a harvest celebration, not meant for anything other than gulping immediately.
  • In ascending order of price: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Village, Cru Beaujolais (look for the Village name)
  • Cru Beaujolais villages in order from lighter to more intense: Chiroubles, Regnie, St. Amour, Fleurie, Chenas, Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent.

Provençal Rosé

Provence wine map courtesy of http://www.winefolly.com

Provençal Rosé Fast Facts

  • Provence is the home of the best known rosés from France and the model for rosés around the world.
  • Proper French rosé is dry.
  • When people think of rosé as a sweet wine, they are thinking about blush wines such as white Zinfandel in the US.
  • For more Provençal rosé information, go to Vins de Provence

Provençal Rosé Detailed description
Provençal Rosé is a wine made from red wine grapes, but made in a process closer to that of white wine. The grapes are picked, crushed and placed in large fermenting vats, but the juice is pressed off the skins after a short time, usually somewhere between an hour and a day. Wine color comes from the skins of the grapes, so red wine grape juice only allowed a few hours of contact with the skins picks up only a little color, resulting in the pretty light gold to salmon color you see in Provençal rosé.

This process produces a wine which has all the fresh acidity of a white wine with a bit more fruit flavor and even a touch of tannins. Served chilled, Provençal rosé is entirely refreshing and dangerously gulpable.

Budget Provençal Rosé (<$20 per bottle in the US)
Label – Rosés will usually all be stocked in the same area of the wine shop and often they’ll be arranged by where they’re from. Provençal rosés will often be noticeable as some of the lightest in color. There are several methods for making rosé and some result in much deeper color. Look for Aix en Provence, Cotes de Provence, also, rosé from the Rhone and the Languedoc is typically made in similar fashion.

Wine – Bone dry, bright, crisp, light body. Aromas and flavors are of citrus and red fruit and sometimes citrus rind.

Food – Rosé has lots of refreshing acidity to help it pair with a wide variety of foods typical of summer. Salads, fried foods, think almost any kind of picnic food.

In the Wine Shop
Advice to help you in the wine shop:

  • Go in the shop with a plan: I am looking for a dry Provençal Rosé, under $20.
  • The rosés will usually be all collected in 1 section. Look for lighter colored examples from Provence, the Rhone and Languedoc.

In case you missed it earlier, download the link below to your phone. Voila! You have a quick reference to use when in the wine shop or restaurant.

French Wine XXX Cheatsheet

Homework Assignment
Take a selfie enjoying a glass of Provençal Rosé at an outdoor café. Bonus points for including another person, also enjoying a glass of rosé. Post it on the FoodWineClick facebook page!

Next installment, (hopefully in June):

  • Are you ready to travel?  How about Italian wine 101?

French Wine 101 - Beaujolais and Provençal Rosé at www.foodwineclick.com

 

Comments
4 Responses to “French Wine 101 – Beaujolais and Provençal Rosé”
  1. Well done! Did you know that Provençal wines have to be a blend of at least two varieties?

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