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A Moulin-à-Vent cuvée awarded World’s Best Gamay 2024

Last Saturday, January 13th, the 14th International Gamay Competition was held at the Cité Internationale in Lyon. 811 cuvées from 4 different countries – France, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil – competed for the much-desired title. And after Brouilly in 2022, and Côte de Brouilly last year, a Moulin-à-Vent cuvée won the trophy.

Learn more about the 12 Beaujolais AOCs.

A record number of tasters

This event is not to be missed for some wine professionals and educated amateurs. 181 of them attended the event to taste the numerous cuvées registered for this competition. Gold and silver medals were attributed after a first tasting.

At the end of the first selection, a special jury of experts – a sommellerie teacher, an oenologist, a restaurateur, a wine merchant and a sommelier – blind tasted again the gold medal cuvées in order to find the best. It’s finally Moulin-à-Vent Old Vines 2023 from Domaine de Colonat which was elected World’s Best Gamay 2024.

267 gamay cuvées awarded by a medal

267 medals, among which 164 in gold and 103 in silver, were granted to the best Gamay cuvées of this competition. The jury also awarded a special mention to the best wine from Switzerland: Coteau de Peissy AOC, Le Baron Rouge Old Vines 1er cru 2022 from Domaine des Charmes, 100% Gamay.

Find the complete award list on the competition official website.

International Gamay Competition – © VBerlanda
Moulin-à-Vent Old Vines 2023 – Domaine de Colonat
Julie and Thomas Collonge

Moulin-à-Vent awarded World’s Best Gamay

The “World’s Best Gamay 2024” trophy has been awarded to Moulin-à-Vent Old Vines 2023 from Domaine de Colonat.

Winegrowers for 9 generations, the Collonge family cultivates 3 hectares of vines and produces cuvées of Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Chiroubles, Brouilly, Régnié and white Beaujolais AOCs. After studying viticulture and oenology, Thomas trained in France and abroad before joining the family wine estate for 10 years of passing on knowledge from its parents. Since 2018, Julie and Thomas have been continuying to develop the wine estate. The knowledge of their best terroirs allows them to offer 5 cuvées from specific plots from Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon AOCs.

Nous avons identifié au Domaine de Colonat trois éléments qui nous semblent essentiels pour produire des grands vins : nos vieilles vignes, le choix de la date de récolte et le tri des raisins à la récolte.” confie Thomas Collonge.

The grapes of this cuvée come from 3 different plots of Moulin-à-Vent AOC: les Greneriers, Bois Pontdevaux and Maison Neuve. The clay-granitic terroirs offer limited but regular water availability to the 61 to 93 year-old vines. The wine ages in concrete vats in order to preserve fruit and freshness.

Moulin-à-Vent AOC celebrates its centenary in 2024: get more news here.

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Exceptional Beaujolais wines: the selection for the ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest 2023

Concours Meilleur Sommelier 2023 Sélection des vins du Beaujolais

As partner of the Best Sommelier of the World contest, the Beaujolais vineyard will have the chance to present its exceptional cuvées. In Paris in February 2023, all international sommeliers will be able to taste these cuvées selected by a prestigious jury.

But how are these wines chosen? Let’s watch the video of this demanding tasting.

A jury of excellence to select 41 exceptional Beaujolais wines.

On the occasion of the partnership between Beaujolais wines and the Best Sommelier of the World contest 2023, three great French sommeliers were able to assess the finest cuvées of the vineyard. Among these exceptional wines, 41 will be presented to the best sommeliers on the planet during the competition week.

To find out more about the ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest 2023, read the dedicated blog article.

In order to make this qualitative selection, three renowned sommeliers took part in the tasting exercise. Philippe Faure-Brac, Best Sommelier of the World 1992 and president of the Union of French Sommellery, Laurent Derhé, Best Artisan Sommelier of France 2007 and Gaëtan Bouvier, Best French Sommelier 2016 and Best Artisan Sommelier of France 2022.

“Today, the aim was to select typical wines from our wonderful Beaujolais vineyard, among gamays and chardonnays, in order to present them to the best sommeliers of the world and […] prove that this vineyard is a great vineyard.”

Laurent Derhé, Best Artisan Sommelier of France 2007

Video : the sommeliers express themselves on the selection of Beaujolais wines

This tasting took place in October 2022 at the Paul Bocuse Institute, in Ecully, Rhône, France. The Paul Bocuse Institute also hosts the restaurant Saisons* awarded by 1 Michelin star. The jurors first selected 40 bottles that will have the honor of being tasted by the elite of world sommelier. Then, they confessed their impressions in front of our cameras.

The sommeliers Philippe Faure-Brac, Laurent Derhé and Gaëtan Bouvier. They speak about their Beaujolais tastings for the Best Sommelier of the World contest 2023.

It was therefore a wonderful day of tasting and sommellerie held around Beaujolais wines. Another proof that those exceptional wines have their place on gastronomic tables around the world.

Beaujolais Wines, partner of the ASI Competition for the Best Sommelier of the World Paris 2023. Click here to learn more !

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2020 vintage in Beaujolais : the vintage of the decade

Carnet millésime 2020

The Beaujolais region has had many outstanding vintages in recent years, and 2020 was no exception. The success of this vintage is attributed to the exceptional conditions that have been offered to winemakers, allowing them to produce their signature wines.

Let’s dive into the factors that contributed to making 2020 the vintage of the decade for Beaujolais.

2020 : excellent weather conditions

The distinctive results of 2020 can be attributed to a range of factors, including the exceptional weather conditions that prevailed throughout the seasons. The year was characterized by dry and hot weather early on, which ensured optimal grape ripening and excellent vine health. Although there were occasional rains and temperature drops, these were timely and prevented overripe berries as well as significant yield reductions. Many Beaujolais producers agree that these very favorable conditions have produced great wines,

Gamay grape in summer
Gamay grape in summer – Beaujolais Wines / Etienne Ramousse

“Power, balance, freshness, fruitiness, roundness, and complexity… everything is there!”

Philippe Viet, winemaker in Régnié-Durette

2020 : ripeness, freshness and balance

Ripeness, freshness, and balance are the hallmarks of the 2020 vintage.

The warm temperatures allowed for beautiful ripening of the grapes and stems, providing winemakers with the opportunity to choose their preferred style, whether it be power or elegance.

Production methods were rethought which resulted in the discovery of wines with unique styles, offering new possibilities for gastronomic pairings. Cover crops, mulching, long macerations, low-temperature vinification, or extended aging were some of the techniques employed by winemakers to achieve their desired styles.

Although the alcohol concentration in this vintage is significant, it is beautifully balanced by the wines’ refreshing acidity. This harmony of sugars and acids results in a genuine balance that characterizes the wines of 2020.

2020 vintage : an expression of the Terroir

2020 wines express the terroir in a variety of profiles, depending on the specificities of their land. To learn more about the richness of Beaujolais soils, refer to the page The Beaujolais Vineyard, a Mosaic of Soils.

They gained power in some cases, taking on notes of black fruits, spices, and aromatic herbs from the south. In other cases, they are more delicate, revealing fresher, more lively aromas, and delicate tannins.

The aromatic profiles of the wines vary from one appellation to another, sometimes even from one plot to another, due to the extremely rich geology of the vineyard.

Rocks in Beaujolais
Rocks in Beaujolais – Floriane Tanneur / Beaujolais Wines

With their distinct characteristics and nuances, the 2020 wines exhibit a remarkable aging potential, ensuring they will endure the test of time.

The 2020 vintage is so particular that it got a dedicated booklet. Should you be curious to learn more, please refer to the detailed 2020 vintage report linked below.

Feel free to order the paper version of the 2020 vintage report on our online store.

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Best Sommelier of the World: contest in Paris in 2023

In February 2023, France will host the prestigious Best Sommelier of the World contest in Paris. Seventy candidates from around the world will compete in the major wine event! As an official partner of the ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest Paris 2023, Beaujolais Wines are proud to introduce you to this legendary contest!

A longstanding contest for sommeliers from the world over

Every three years since 1969, the ASI (Association de Sommellerie Internationale) has been in charge of organising the contest. For that matter, this worldwide contest is the most prestigious in the realm of sommellerie. So it is no coincidence that the World’s Best Sommelier title is coveted by all highly-regarded sommeliers!

Back in 1989, France hosted the contest for the first and only time. Now, thirty-four years later, the UDSF (Union de la Sommellerie Française) has the privilege of hosting the event in France again. That’s why, in 2023, the organisers intend to give it their all to make the major contest truly unforgettable.

Winners since the initial contest

  • 1969: Armand Melkonian (French)
  • 1971: Piero Sattanino (Italian)
  • 1978: Guiseppe Vaccarini (Italian)
  • 1983: Jean-Luc Pouteau (French)
  • 1986: Jean-Claude Jambon (French)
  • 1989: Serge Dubs (French)
  • 1992: Philippe Faure-Brac (French)
  • 1995: Shinya Tasaki (Japanese)
  • 1998: Markus Del Monego (German)
  • 2000: Olivier Poussier (French)
  • 2004: Enrico Bernardo (Italian)
  • 2007: Andreas Larsson (Swedish)
  • 2010: Gérard Basset (French on behalf of Great Britain)
  • 2013: Paolo Basso (Swiss)
  • 2016: Jon Arvid Rosengren (Swedish)
  • 2019: Marc Almert (German)
Insigne des sommeliers français (UDSF)
Insigne des sommeliers français (UDSF)

And this year, Pascaline Lepeltier, with Benjamin Roffet as her substitute, has qualified to represent France. As the Best Sommelier of France 2018, she currently works as a sommelier at Chambers restaurant in Manhattan (New York). At the same time, she not only visits the vineyards as often as possible, but is also an author: her first work, Mille Vignes (A Thousand Vines), was published in 2022.

The Best Sommelier of the World contest: how it works

The contest will take place at the Hotel Pullman Montparnasse in Paris from 7 to 12 February 2023. However, the grand finale will be held at the Défense Arena. It is expected to be quite a show for the 3500 people in attendance.

The week-long contestschedule is made up of three competitions, including theoretical questionnaires and blind tasting tests. The quarter-final, on Wednesday and Thursday, 8-9 February, then the semi-final on Friday, 10 February and lastly, the final on Sunday, 12 February. Attending the final is open to wine professionals as well as connoisseurs and the simply curious.

Between the competitions, sommeliers and journalists will take part in several master classes on topics organised by partner vineyards. The Beaujolais vineyards will present, among other topics, its multiple terroirs and the impact of the latter on wine profiles.

Logo Concours ASI Meilleur Sommelier du Monde

This is an opportunity to “showcase France, make Paris shine and promote our restaurant industry, sommellerie, vineyards and winegrowers.”

Philippe Faure-Brac, Best Sommelier of the World 1992

“The event will have a triple impact”, as UDSF President Philippe Faure-Brac explained: “showcase France, make Paris shine and promote our restaurant industry, sommellerie, vineyards and winegrowers, in real life, of course, but also online.”

What a great aim for the 2023 French event, which will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on the international history of wine!

Beaujolais Wines, an official partner of the ASI Best Sommelier of the World Paris 2023 contest: click here to find out more!

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Chateau life in the Beaujolais region

Do you sometimes find it difficult to choose a wine? If you don’t have a friendly local wine merchant or winemaker to hand, the best solution is to look for the château on the label! The wine inside is sure to be fit for a king!

When it comes to Beaujolais wines, trust in conventional wisdom. There are more than 300 chateaus and country homes in the Beaujolais winegrowing area, many of which have vineyards.

Prestigious wines

© Jean-Luc Mege Photographie

What if we took you to Versailles to convince you? Versailles in Beaujolais, otherwise known as Château de la Chaize, in Odenas is a wonderful example of 17th century architecture. The estate covering nearly 330 hectares is landscaped with French formal gardens designed by the King’s famous gardener André Le Nôtre . Château de la Chaize has 140 hectares of vines, and is hence both an architectural and winegrowing wealth with the production of lovely Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly and Fleurie vintages. The wines are matured in the longest vat room in the Beaujolais region: a 108-metre-long building classified as a historical monument.

Other impressively sized cellars can be found in the chateau de Juliénas, former stronghold of the Lords of Beaujeu. They are in the basement under the courtyard and cover a surface area of over 200 metres, the equivalent of two football pitches! Juliénas has been produced there for five generations.

In Villié-Morgon, Château de Bellevue overlooks the village. The 19th century mansion was once inhabited by one of the Lumière Brothers’ children as well as by Princess Lieven, née Chateaubriand. With a vineyard that stretches out over 15 hectares in the Morgon appellation, the wine estate is considered one of the gems of the Beaujolais region.

Château des Bachelards, Château Thivin, Château des Moriers, Château Saint-Vincent or Château de Fleurie and Domaine de Briante, to name but a few, are also part of the long list of the winegrowing region’s heritage treasures. There’s no doubt about it, the area is full of Châteaux and to discover them all, you just need to come for a visit!

When the wine tells a story

If you want to follow the trail of the Lords of Beaujeu, visit the château de Montmelas in Montmelas-Saint-Sorlin, a former garrison that belonged to the Lords of Beaujeu in the Middle Ages. The château looks down on the surrounding area from the top of its hill.

In the 19th century, the architect Viollet-le-Duc gave it a new look by adding crenelated towers. Ever since it has been nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty’s castle”.

The chateau’s vines produce Beaujolais Villages wines; the profile of the Marquis of Montmelas whose family has owned the château for five centuries appears on the label.

Enigmatic wines

History and story lovers may want to investigate the chateau de Vaurenard in Gleizé, and more particularly a bottle of Baron de Richemont, a Beaujolais appellation. The Baron claimed to be Louis XVII, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The building dates from the 17th and 18th centuries

Stunning chateaus of golden stones

Enjoy the sun’s rays at the château de Rochebonne in Theizé. Its 17th century façade of golden stones is to be enjoyed with a glass of Beaujolais Villages.

Another place to soak up the rays is Jarnioux: the chateau is a marvel in golden stones that will delight Renaissance enthusiasts. Some of the building dates from the 12th century, which makes Jarnioux château one of the best preserved in the region. It is the kingdom of the Beaujolais appellation.

For a relaxing break in a fully renovated 15th century chateau, try the château de Bagnols, a great starting point for exploring Pierres Dorées country and its wines.

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Beaujolais, accessible wines

Are you a wine enthusiast or maybe just an enthusiastic wine drinker who wants to learn the art of wine tasting? Beaujolais are just the wines for you. The Gamay grape variety is expressed in 12 appellations in red and 2 in rosé. Same goes for the Chardonnay variety that comes in Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages white. Now that’s a winegrowing region that definitely knows how to make itself accessible!

A glassful of AOCs

Beaujolais stands out from other French vineyards thanks to the readability that characterizes its appellations. No need to remember dozens of names: Beaujolais covers just 12 AOCs. So, perfecting your knowledge of Beaujolais wines is a real pleasure.

You then need to get to know all the grape varieties and once again Beaujolais is different from the others. All the wines are made from a single variety: Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc for reds and rosés and Chardonnay for whites. Very easy to remember… After that, you move on to the next level! Morgon Côte du Py, Moulin-à-Vent Rochenoire or Fleurie

Grille-Midi: all these names prefigured by a Beaujolais appellation are in fact what are called lieux-dits, or localities. Quite often, you’ll find them on the labels of great vintages produced on the most renowned terroirs of Beaujolais growers. That in-depth knowledge of Beaujolais soils, and the winegrowers who enhance the specificities of each terroir allow exceptional Beaujolais wines to come into being. Complex wines – endowed with a great potential for ageing – to be readily shared with great friends.

A mouthful of knowledge

Often without really realizing it, people’s first introduction to the world of Beaujolais wines and perhaps wines in general, is through Beaujolais Nouveaux. Even though it’s an easy-drinking, party wine, these primeur or young wines are nevertheless fine representatives of the new vintage, and joyous precursors of the year’s Gamay character. An ideal introduction to the Beaujolais spirit!

To understand the other Beaujolais wines, you have to learn how to grasp their nuances: Morgon, Fleurie, Beaujolais-Villages, Chiroubles and Brouilly have certain similarities, but also their own personalities. Because although there is only a limited number of appellations in the Beaujolais, the wines have a range of aromas and distinct characters! There are even specific terms used to refer to particular Beaujolais wines such as “morgonner”, for example.

As your introduction to Beaujolais wines progresses, you’ll start to appreciate the structures of each appellation and understand the strengths of each terroir. In fact, which other winegrowing region pays tribute to its lieux-dits through its wine better than the Beaujolais? With a single grape variety for every color, the terroir can fully express itself thanks to the knowledge and skills of the growers.

A bottleful of training

A good knowledge of wines comes with time and over many tasting sessions. And Beaujolais wines are no exception to the rule. Take advantage of every possible occasion to open a bottle, for drinks with friends, a business lunch, a dinner party, a romantic dinner or just for the pleasure of it. Have fun trying to pick out the right bottle for each occasion to surprise and delight your friends. There is bound to be a Beaujolais to suit every occasion, it’s just a question of looking for it.

Your favorite wine merchant will always be on hand to advise and help you. But why don’t you also try looking for the information at the source? Plan a relaxing break in the Beaujolais region to take a leisurely trip along the Wine Route, visiting cellars, trying out the wines (in moderation of course!) and talking to growers so that you can take home great memories and plenty of new ideas.

And carry on enjoying the experience all year round. Take back with you 2 or 3 bottles of each appellation to store in your cellar. Then see how your taste buds gradually evolve until you can recognize a particular Beaujolais, or even every single appellation, with your eyes closed… Well, in a manner of speaking because of course the eye is the first sense to click in when you try a wine. And Beaujolais wines have a wonderful palette of ruby red colors ranging from clear, intense and deep to garnet hues…

Any introduction to wine tasting in general and to Beaujolais in particular takes time. You get to know Beaujolais wines progressively: there are the simple, uncomplicated Beaujolais Nouveaux wines to indulge in almost as soon as they are produced in the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages winegrowing areas and then there are the 10 more complex and refined crus. Give it a go!

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Heroic Beaujolais vines!

Have you ever noticed the vines tumbling down the Beaujolais hillsides? These exceptional landscapes not only give the region its own unique charm but have also led to this very Beaujolais idea of “heroic wine growing.” Why “heroic” Because you need to be pretty brave to work on these slopes. As the winegrowers themselves say, it’s hard work but it’s fascinating. Once you’ve read this article, you’ll never again see Beaujolais vines in the same light.

Who ever thought of growing wines on slopes?

Beaujolais landscapes are instantly recognizable by their vines planted in perfect rows across the contour lines of hills. You’re probably wondering how winegrowers here got the idea of growing vines on hillsides. Well it’s quite simply because the lie of the land affects the growth of grapes in more than one way!

Firstly, the upper ground has more sunlight than the plain down below. The sun’s rays have fewer obstacles to overcome and can reach the vines directly. And vines love the sun! The warmth creates a good balance between the sweetness and acidity in grapes, which produces wines that are gentle but also very tasty.

But that’s not the only reason why winegrowers brave the sometimes very steep gradients in the Beaujolais region. Water streaming down the slopes is also very advantageous for the grapes. The water doesn’t have time to soak into the ground, it simply runs off down to the bottom of the slope. So the fruit gets just the right amount of water.

This is ideal, because too much water damages the vines. It increases the risk of disease, makes pest control treatment less efficient and prevents the grapes from fully soaking up the flavors of the terroir. The heroism of the vine stock therefore protects them and ensures optimal growth.

Meticulous work so that the heroic vines can give of their best

Winegrowers in the Beaujolais region are brave, daring and tenacious. All work in the vines from September to August has to be done manually, as the winegrowers work gradually across one plot of land to another. Except during the harvest, the winegrower does all this work on own: pruning, disbudding, tying, weeding, hoeing… He creates the best conditions for the grapes to flourish on these difficult slopes. The winegrowers themselves are also heroic!

The “heroic wine growing” label

The hillside rows of vines cover the Beaujolais mountains at an average altitude of 300 metres, with peaks culminating at over 600 metres. The Beaujolais vineyard is a member of CERVIM (Centre for

Research, Environmental Sustainability and Advancement of Mountain Viticulture), alongside other vineyards in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region like Côte-Rôtie as well as the Banyuls-Collioure, Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Douro and other wine regions around the world. This type of winegrowing, practised at over 500 metres in altitude or on inclines over 30% (thresholds defined by CERVIM) is characterised as ‘heroic’ viticulture due to the human involvement and effort imposed by the difficulty of the mountain environment. The challenges are threefold: cultural, ecological and geographical. Here, the grower’s work is glorified. There are 8,900 plots on ‘extreme slopes’ (over 30%), which account for nearly 3,000 hectares in all. Quincié-en-Beaujolais is the steepest village where more than 90 hectares are on slopes with inclines over 30%, and Chiroubles which produces crus, has nearly 60 hectares on steep inclines.

Now that you know more about the conditions under which Beaujolais wines are grown, you’ll surely spare a thought for these extreme winegrowers next time you raise a glass of Beaujolais wine!

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Discovering the Beaujolais terroirs

A terroir is the combination of natural elements in a particular zone (the soil, topography, biodiversity, climate and landscape) as well as the knowledge and skills of winegrowers and the production techniques used. It is the terroir that gives a wine its particular characteristics. The Beaujolais region is very diverse with a variety of terroirs each with its own secret that can be found in the particular character of each appellation.

Very varied soils from north to south

From 2009 to 2018, at the Inter Beaujolais council’s request, a terroir characterisation survey was conducted by the SIGALES soil mapping agency. After more than 15,000 soil surveys, nearly 1,000 soil pits and 50 field visits, the analyses made it possible to map the Beaujolais vineyard. Winegrowers and négociants are taking advantage of the soil characterisation to highlight the terroirs in plot-by-plot cuvées. In April 2018, recognition of the outstanding geology led to the “UNESCO Global Geopark” designation. Consequently, the Beaujolais vineyard became the 7th Geopark in France. Although the Beaujolais wine region is not very extensive geographically speaking, it encompasses a multitude of different soils in a highly surprising way; over 300 variants have been identified and described. The soils form on bedrock or on the parent material that supports them. As such, our vineyard is quite outstanding, since it bears witness to over 500 million years of geological history for which all the traces can easily be found. At the interface of all the major geological events in history, located on the eastern edge of the Massif Central and impacted by the Alpine phenomenon of the Tertiary period but spared by the glaciers, the Beaujolais wine region has inherited one of the richest and most complex geologies in France. Covering a small area, the vineyard brings together a very wide variety of rocks!

This is where each appellation or if not each “lieu-dit” initially draws its own individual character, especially given that Gamay is the only grape variety used in the Beaujolais region for producing all the red wines: crus, Beaujolais-Villages and Beaujolais.

A climate with different influences

The Beaujolais region benefits from a mild climate marked by three major influences. In winter,
continental air masses contribute to the frosts that can sometimes continue until well into the
spring. Between seasons, the oceanic air masses promote the regulatory function of the Saône River
and reduce the differences in temperature. The return of warm weather brings with it the influence
of Mediterranean winds.

The Upper Beaujolais mountain chain also helps protect the vine stock and attracts the foehn – warm air from the west that has a warming and drying effect in summer when it crosses the Beaujolais mountain ridges on its way down to the plain.

The winegrowing terroir has relatively low rainfall and can be affected by extreme heat as well as sometimes devastating storms.

Slopes with good sunlight

Most of the slopes in the Beaujolais region face south or east and benefit from long hours of sunshine and good light from spring to autumn. Another great advantage for producing exceptional Beaujolais wines.

The passion and skills of winegrowers in the Beaujolais

Growing techniques in the Beaujolais still rely heavily on the physical involvement of the winegrower. Whether it’s for pruning the vine stock, looking after the soil, training the vine or organising the harvest, Beaujolais winegrowers are always physically present on their land. Although mechanical means are used in some places to facilitate certain tasks (ploughing or harvests), the very nature of the land (relatively small plots, stony soils, hillsides, steep gradients, etc.) and the regulations governing the 12 appellations, require constant vigilance and all the skills and knowledge that are passed down from generation to generation.

The Beaujolais region owes the different qualities and variety of its wines to the diversity of its terroirs as much as to the passion of its winegrowers and the intimate knowledge they have built up about their land. Knowledge and skills that are becoming increasingly specialised and very much dedicated to preserving this unique natural heritage.

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They’ve left their mark on history in the Beaujolais region

Back in Roman times, vines were already being grown in the Beaujolais region. It’s even said that the Juliénas cru was named after Julius Caesar. But it was in the Middle Ages that the region’s wines really began to make a name for themselves. And it’s a story that involves a number of famous people.

The Lords of Beaujeu or the advent of Beaujolais

The Beaujolais winegrowing area really started to become well-known thanks to the Lords of Beaujeu. One of them, Bérard, became known from around 957 for his wine trading. The Lords of Beaujeu gave their name to the area and contributed to its aura. Beaujeu was the capital of the Beaujolais region up until 1514, when it was replaced by Villefranche-sur-Saône.

Wine production at the time was marginal compared to other crops. It wasn’t until the 17th century that winegrowing here really expanded.

Pulliat and Vermorel: saviours of the vines

In the 19th century, Victor Pulliat played a major role in the rebirth of the vines that had been decimated by phylloxera. It was in Chiroubles that he studied different ways of eradicating the insect. His research took him all around Europe carrying out graft tests. The vines were saved after he advocated the grafting of American rootstock.

Today his memory is still honoured in the region. The Victor Pullliat Prize is awarded to the best vintages in each of the 10 Beaujolais crus at the annual Fête des Crus.

The name Victor Vermorel is associated with the fight against mildew. In the late 19th century, he started experimenting in the family workshop in Villefranche-sur-Saône. He is mostly known for creating a Bordeaux mixture spray to rid the vines of this particular disease.

The fathers of Beaujolais Nouveau

In the 20th century the sheer energy of men such as Louis Bréchard, a winegrower and MP, Léon Foillard, wine merchant and founder of the Compagnons du Beaujolais (Beaujolais Guild) and Gérard Canard, former director of the Beaujolais professional wine network, contributed to the promotion of Beaujolais Nouveau.

But the undisputed king of this bacchanalian high table is Georges Duboeuf.

Georges Duboeuf and Beaujolais on a global scale

Sometimes nicknamed the “pope” or the “king” of Beaujolais, Georges Dubœuf came from a long line of winegrowers. He settled in 1964 in Romanèche-Thorins to establish his Beaujolais and Mâconnais wine trade. A discerning taster, he had his heart set on revealing the talent of the winegrowers and enhancing the great terroirs. A tireless ambassador for the region, he travelled the world to promote his wines alongside renowned chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Pierre Troisgros and Guy Savoy. He contributed greatly to the reputation of Beaujolais Nouveau by organising major international events. A forerunner in terms of communication, in 1993 he founded the Hameau Dubœuf, a museum dedicated to the vineyards and wine.

Bernard Pivot, local man

And finally there is the local man, Beaujolais lover and champion of the winegrowing
area. Bernard Pivot, writer, man of letters and television presenter, author of the book Dictionnaire amoureux du Vin (Wine Lovers’ Dictionary) and member of the Goncourt Academy, is the co-founder of the Beaujolais Defence Committee.

He often says that Beaujolais is “a wine associated with youth, energy, freshness and with priests or workers’ gardens where there are a few red fruits to be found”.

In an interview with the Lyon Capitale newspaper, he defined Beaujolais as a “wine for the class struggle (…). Wine for Laughing Cow cheese and for crown roast of lamb. Wine to be drunk in local restaurants with old friends and wine to be drunk at family lunches. Wine for a left-wing workers’ sausage stew and wine for the pot-au-feu of the political right. ‘Beaujolpif’ for workers to slurp and Saint-Amour for weddings”.

Take it from Bernard Pivot: there really is a Beaujolais for every occasion and every