Exploring Beaujolais Beyond the 10 Crus: Unveiling Hidden Gems Within the Regional AOCs

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Exploring Beaujolais

Exploring Beaujolais Beyond the 10 Crus: Unveiling Hidden Gems Within the Regional AOCs

Although the 10 crus of Beaujolais tend to get all the love, wines from the area’s regional appellations, as well as their hidden gem areas, are equally not to be missed—and there’s no better time of year to explore them than early fall. Enter the wines of AOC Beaujolais and AOC Beaujolais-Villages, home to some of the most easy-drinking, food-friendly Gamay on the planet. Although sometimes overlooked, these underrated appellations are beloved by sommeliers, industry pros, and red wine lovers alike—and their approachable price tags are simply the cherry on top.

About AOC Beaujolais & AOC Beaujolais-Villages

The regional AOC Beaujolais appellation covers all 72 communes of the Beaujolais area and spans a total of more than 3,900 hectares of vines. While most of the vines are planted to the region’s signature red grape, Gamay, around 300 hectares are planted to Chardonnay. Due to its vast area, the appellation’s soils are immensely varied. From pink granite to blue stone, limestone, clay, and beyond, the vines cultivated within the AOC Beaujolais appellation benefit from a variety of foundations and climate conditions, which is reflected in the immense diversity of wine flavors. The general thread that ties these wines together, however, is their fresh, fruit-forward profiles and approachable nature.

To learn more about the soils of Beaujolais AOC, please visit the link here.

Like the wines of AOC Beaujolais, the Gamay-based reds of AOC Beaujolais-Villages are juicy, light to medium bodied, and very easy to drink. Produced in the northern part of the Beaujolais region, the wines of AOC Beaujolais-Villages come from 38 villages and are predominantly grown in granite-based soils. These wines are fresh, bright, fruit forward, and most bottles are best consumed within five years of their vintage.

To learn more about the soils of Beaujolais Villages AOC, please visit the link here.

Hidden Gem Area: “Pierres Dorées”

Within the AOC Beaujolais lies one of the most exciting, up-and-coming areas of the region, the Pierres Dorées. Translated to the ‘Territory of Golden stones,’ this hidden gem area came to the scene about 15 years ago, thanks to a band of regional growers passionate about sharing the unique identity of the area’s wines.

Geographically speaking, the Pierres Dorées is unique from other areas in Beaujolais, as it is home to four distinct soil types, and thus provides ample opportunities for crafting high-quality reds, whites, and rosés. The remarkable variation in soils, altitudes, and exposures creates an unparalleled canvas for the 100 winemakers embracing this appellation. These wines are meticulously nurtured and aged for maturity, truly embodying the essence of terroir. At present, nearly 100 winegrowers employ the Pierres Dorées designation on over 170 different cuvées. As a direct outcome of the shared characteristics outlined above, a proposal has been submitted to obtain a specific geographical denomination from the INAO (National Institute of Origin and Quality).

To learn more about Pierres Dorées, please visit the link here.

Hidden Gem Area: Lantignié

In 1950, Beaujolais became the first French AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) to use the term “villages,” aiming to share with the entire world the diversity found within the 38 villages that constitute the appellation. When the term “villages” is claimed, it steps aside, allowing wine enthusiasts to fully appreciate the specific location. Thus, a Beaujolais Villages crafted from vines in the village of Lantignié becomes “Beaujolais Lantignié” (rather than “Beaujolais Villages Lantignié”).

Speaking of one of the region’s best-kept secrets, Lantignié is characterized by pink granite in the east and blue stones in the west. Its famous roots date back to 994 A.D. when a parcel of vines was donated to the Cluny Abbey—showcasing how the village boasts an impressive history of over 1,000 years!

In 2017, the non-profit group Vignerons et Terroirs de Lantignié was born. The intention for this group of men and women is to collaborate while adhering to environmental principles and agroecological values. Rooted in their local area, they are determined to contribute to the reputation of Beaujolais Lantignié. With strong ecological and humanitarian commitments, the association partners with the Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages producer organizations to seek recognition of these virtuous practices and expertise by applying to the INAO.

To learn more about Lantignié, please visit the link here.

About Wines of Beaujolais 

From the foothills of the Massif Central to the Saone River plain, the rolling hills and plains of Beaujolais form a wine-growing area of 67 square miles. The peculiarity of this region is the unique co-existence of various terrains, microclimates, and granite soils which lend structure and depth to wines that are supple and fruity. While Beaujolais does produce a small number of white and rosé wines, the region is best known for its versatile, light to medium-bodied reds – all single-varietal and mostly made of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc – which account for 96% of all wines produced in the region. Beaujolais is made up of 12 appellations: Beaujolais (red, white, and rosé), Beaujolais Villages (red, white, and rosé), and 10 Beaujolais Crus (reds only: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas, and Saint-Amour).

For more information about Beaujolais and its wines, please visit https://www.beaujolais.com/ and https://carnet.beaujolais.com/en/

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