a handsome hillside and hilltop
vineyard in Morgon farmed by more
than one grower, has already unof-
ficially achieved this status. Nearby,
Grand Cras” has a similar reputa-
tion for consistent top quality. Many
top growers are now adding these
vineyard names to their labels.
There is increasing diversity of
styles—and even grapes.
partial carbonic maceration is still
very much in vogue, some winemak-
ers are treating Gamay in the winery
as though it were Pinot Noir in
order to get more depth and aging
capability. Other wineries are using,
or experimenting with, organic and
biodynamic growing methods. Some
are even growing grapes other than
Gamay in Beaujolais, although these
have to be called “Vin de France.”
Agri-tourism is increasing
consumer interest in the wines.
Many of the small wineries also have
B&Bs or rooms to rent, and most of
the dozens of small towns have at least
one good restaurant. “I tell customers
it’s one of the greatest wine areas to
visit,” says MacArthur’s Bernstein.
The region is coming to terms with
its Burgundy heritage.
I think that
it’s important to remind people that
Beaujolais is part of Greater Burgun-
dy,” says Cyrielle Jacquet of the presti-
gious Terroirs Originels group, which
this year set up its own American sales
office in Oregon.
There is a major infusion of young
many of whom have
done additional training in other
regions to broaden their education.
Still, there are some dark clouds. Beau-
jolais Nouveau sales have declined in
recent years, perhaps reflecting efforts to
raise the Beaujolais image for producing
serious, but affordable table wines. That
is generally good news, except that Nou-
veau has served as an excellent cash cow.
Additionally, many small producers
are having trouble selling their Beaujo-
lais-Villages. In the rush to embrace the
top wines, they say, retailers and con-
sumers alike have leapfrogged over this
category that represents arguably the
greatest value for everyday Beaujolais
And the U.S. sales of top Beaujolais
are far from uniform from retailer to retail-
er. “Beaujolais is a dead category here,” de-
clares Theresa Rogers of HorseneckWines
and Liquors in Greenwich, CT, explaining
that an older generation of French wine
lovers on the East Coast have either
passed on or found new interests. “Beaujo-
lais needs a category leader to promote the
brand,” she says. “Château & Estates once
did that with its Château de la Chaize
a Brouilly], which you could find in any
store. No one is doing that now.”
There is also strong competition
from other wine regions. Rogers cites
Grenache-based wines of southern
France as being alternatives. Adams and
Bernstein see Loire Valley and New Zea-
land reds as competition.
But Beaujolais has a unique op-
portunity to promote its larger heritage,
aside from Nouveau, which still has its
attractions, but isn’t what it was,” Ad-
ams argues. Dexheimer sees a sweet spot
in restaurants: “Cru Beaujolais’s drink-
ability and price point makes it an easy
wine to support on wine lists where $40-
$60 wines are top sellers.”
I think that Beaujolais is a lot like
German Riesling,” Bernstein concludes.
Where else can you drink cru wines at
There are 12 Beaujolais official grow-
ing regions, a.k.a.
or, more simply “appellations”
or AOCs). The official grape in all of
them is Gamay. The Beaujolais appella-
tion comprises 72 winemaking villages.
Beaujolais-Villages, which is made up of
winemaking villages, is the second
largest, and wines with this designation
are held in higher regard than those from
the overall Beaujolais AOC. The final 10
appellations, generally acknowledged to be
the best, are referred to as
to south, they are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas,
Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chirou-
bles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de
Brouilly. When discussing these zones, the
terms “appellation” and “cru” can be used
interchangeably, but the Beaujolais and
Beaujolais-Villages appellations cannot be
referred to as crus.
Ironically, the ascent of cru Beaujolais
may be diverting attention for the more
generic Beaujolais-Villages level. Georges
Dubouef is aiming to expand the spotlight
with a Beaujolais & Burgers campaign.
According to Dubouef’s research, 12% of
American adults who drink wine say they
love burgers with wine;” that number
doubles in the West.
Sorting Out Bojo Regions
This windmill is a signature of
the landscape in Moulin-à-Vent.
Guy Marion, enologist
at Duboeuf, conducts
Cru bottlings typically cost more than
Beaujolais-Villages but less than most French crus.