When people in Kenya think of Beaujolais, one of the first things that come to mind is how to pronounce it (Boo-zho-lay). So why has this wine gained such notoriety in the world of wine? Simple, its versatility for most wine drinkers. Beaujolais range from light, young and fresh Beaujolais Nouveau to the more expensive, complex Cru’s.
It is a wine growing region located in the eastern part of France, not too far from the Swiss border. The majority of the wine produced here is red made from a thin-skinned grape called Gamay. There are two styles of Beaujolais that people associate with, Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais AOC. AOC basically meaning the regional appellation where the wine is made. If you ever walk into a wine shop or see a bottle of Beaujolais labelled Cru on the label it is the highest classification of wine from the region. Cru’s can range from bolder age-worthy wines to lighter bodied easier drinking wines.
Beaujolais Nouveau, on the other hand, is one of those perfect summer drinking red wines. This is due to the fact that it is one of the wines that reaches shelves fastest from harvest (normally around 6 weeks). Beaujolais Nouveau wines are released every third Thursday in November each year at exactly one minute past midnight. Beaujolais nouveau started becoming popular in the 1970s due to its light, fresh and fruity style.
The light fruity aspect of Beaujolais Nouveau is due to a fermentation process called carbonic maceration. Simply put, as opposed to the traditional method of fermentation where grapes are first crushed and the juice fermented on skin contact, carbonic maceration involves putting grapes in tanks then pumping in carbon dioxide. The result is the fermentation of juice occurs inside the grape creating a wine that is a light, fruity, low tannin wine that sometimes has aromas of bubblegum!
Beaujolais cru, on the other hand, is a bit more sophisticated. Cru’s can only be produced in ten villages, with more traditional methods (no carbonic maceration) and therefore have better agility, up to 10 years. Still a light-bodied wine, it has elements associated more with old world wines with more smokey, earthy tones. Non-Cru Beaujolais is also light and fruit driven but is usually best consumed within 2 to 3 years of bottling.
I have a fondness for this wine due to its versatility with food. Beaujolais is fairly high in acidity and light bodiedness. Due to this, it pairs well with roasted Christmas meats such as chicken, turkey and pork. Be sure to put this on your Christmas wine list especially if you manage to get your hands on a 2018 vintage. This vintage is considered one of the best vintages in 50 years!