Beaujolais wine region

Beaujolais is technically the most southerly part of Burgundy, and yet to describe its wines, almost all of which are red, as red Burgundy would be a mistake.
That’s because Beaujolais has a very distinct identity.  Firstly, almost all its vines are Gamay, rather than red Burgundy’s beloved Pinot Noir.  The climate is very different too, being semi-continental and so rather warmer than the rest of Burgundy.
Beaujolais as a region, and therefore as a wine, can be split into two.  In the northern half, from Mâcon to Villefranche, the region is hilly and dominated by acidic schist and granite soils.  These hills are home to the Beaujolais Crus: ten villages which have been identified as producing superior wine.  They are, roughly from north to south, St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.
Scattered around the periphery of these Crus is the Beaujolais-Villages appellation, one level below the Crus but one higher than wine simply labelled as Beaujolais.  This mostly comes from the southern, flatter half of the region, which has alkaline sandstone and clay soils.
The region is also famous, or perhaps notorious, for Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine released almost as soon as it has finished fermenting, on the third Thursday of every November.  Only in the very ripest years is it any more than a curiosity, and it usually tastes distinctly tired by February.  Clever marketing made it hugely popular in the Seventies and Eighties, but the inevitable backlash has harmed the reputation of Beaujolais as a whole.

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