What is a cellaring wine?
A cellaring wine is a wine that, given the correct cellar conditions, can improve over time to achieve its best after several years. Some Beaujolais appellations belong to the family of wines that reveal their secrets over time.
But why some wines can be kept and others cannot? The fate of each bottle depends on acidity, sugar and tannins. The more pronounced the acidity, the more sugar in the wine and the more developed the tannins, the more a wine will have good cellaring or aging potential. Over the years, these elements will blend to give the wine perfectly balanced flavors.
That said, it’s not just grapes that give wine good aging potential. Grapes need to be fully ripe to acquire tannins. This is where the terroir and the work of winegrowers come in. So, in a sense, aging potential is created by the grower!
Which Beaujolais wines can be kept?
There are a number of Beaujolais appellations that produce wines suitable for ageing: Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent and Chénas are the best known, but there’s also Juliénas, Chiroubles and Côte de Brouilly.
They have a solid structure, with marked fruit, floral, spice and wood notes in their earliest youth.
To help you find your way around the Beaujolais appellations, here is how they rank in terms of average ageing potential:
Beaujolais wines for drinking relatively young (can be kept for less than 5 years): Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages;
Beaujolais wines with medium ageing potential (can be kept for between 5 and 10 years): Régnié, Juliénas, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chiroubles, Saint-Amour and Fleurie;
Beaujolais wines with long ageing potential (can be kept for between ten and twenty years): Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent and Chénas.
If you’re not sure about the ageing potential of a particular Beaujolais wine, ask your wine merchant for advice. He will be able to recommend the best wine for you and give you some useful information on how it should be stored.
What is the best way to store a Beaujolais wine?
To improve over time, a cellaring wine needs to be treated in a certain way. The Beaujolais wines that you now know fall into this category are no exception.
Absolutely no light, particularly sunlight, and no warmth either! If it’s not in a dark room with 70% humidity and a constant temperature of between 12 and 14°, your wine will fade and lose its aromas. Of course, what it likes most is a cellar with a baked earth floor and thick walls, but it will also be happy stored on its side in an refregerated wine cabinet. There are different types of cabinets to suit all budgets that can fit easily into a kitchen, living room or garage. No excuse now not to age your bottles of Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.
When can you drink a Beaujolais cellaring wine?
As a wine matures progressively and taste and color preferences differ from one person to the next, the best way to find out if your Beaujolais is good for you is to try it!
Once it has reached its peak and can go no further (your wine merchant will have advised you on this), off you go on a tour of your cellar to pick out a bottle. Try it and see if it is how you expected or if it is worth keeping a little longer. In that case, wait a while before opening the next bottle...
The Beaujolais region produces excellent cellaring wines that can be stored for several years, in some cases more than ten. But they can only deliver their special characteristics based on their solid structure if you are prepared to be patient. When Morgon, Juliénas, Chénas or Moulin-à-Vent are fully matured, they are ready to accompany a festive meal of venison, ostrich, stuffed young chicken or turkey, coq au vin or suckling pig. A real treat!