A wine shrouded in mystery!
Chénas means “a place planted with oaks”. The name comes from a legend that tells of a vast oak forest that once stood where the Beaujolais vines now are. A man from Liguria arrived in the village loaded up with vines, and got it into his head to cut down all the trees and plant the vine stock there.
Cleverly, the man used the wood from the oak trees to make vats where he would store the harvest. One day, he heard voices telling him to taste the grapes that he had harvested. The pleasure he experienced was intense! To the extent that he started singing the entire range or gamut of musical notes. And so Gamay was born!
However, a Royal Decree of 1316 seems to contradict this jolly little fable. The decree mentions an order to uproot all the oaks on the slopes of Rémont for the very same reason - to plant vines there.
A wine with thoroughbred flavors
Whatever the true story, legend or Royal Decree, we do know that oaks previously had pride of place on the land where Chénas vines now grow. These majestic trees will have left their mark on the terroir, enabling the vines to draw all their strength and character from the soil.
Helped by a granitic soil, the Chénas vines, generous despite their rarity, have strong character on the nose. Spices and wood intensify the complex harmony of this floral wine. It’s no accident that this Beaujolais cru is often described as a “spray of flowers in a basket of velvet.”
A wine that is a perfect match for the local produce
Collectors appreciate this rare appellation from the Beaujolais vines for its cellaring potential. Over time, the robe assumes a deep garnet color, while the floral aspects fade. After 8 to 10 years, Chénas dons its thoroughbred bouquet and releases fleshy aromas.
It can be kept in a cellar throughout this period and brought out for a particular occasion when traditional cooking is the order of the day.
With their subtle wooded notes, Chénas wines are a delicious enhancement to chicken casserole, grilled ribeye steak, steak with herb butter and roast pork loin. They are all dishes that are robust enough to live up to with the prestigious Beaujolais appellation!
Chénas draws its character and strength from the past history of its soil. Once an oak forest, this Beaujolais vine now produces one of the rarest and most successful wines in the region. As for the legend surrounding this magnificent place, everyone is free to choose their favorite story, and share it with their guests...