Gamay is having a moment and quality Beaujolais is at the forefront of the movement.
The wine world is buzzing: according to new consumer research from Drizly, Gamay is the new grape of the summer. But those of us in the business aren’t at all surprised that high quality Beaujolais – and wines like it – are finally in the limelight. After decades of battle between industrial, overproduced Beaujolais Nouveau and its counter, natural wine, Beaujolais has found a center aisle and the results couldn’t be more delicious. Don’t let the title of that Food & Wine article fool you though – these wines are fabulous for all seasons and I try to keep several in my collection no matter what time of year it is.
My recent trip to Beaujolais made me fall in love with the region and its wines as a whole. That being said, there were a few wines I tasted while there that were truly excellent. Read on for some of my favorites – and where you can bring a bottle home.
Anne-Sophie Dubois, Fleurie “Les Labourons”, 2021 ($44, Verve Wine)
Visiting Anne-Sophie’s vineyards was one of the highlights of my visit to Beaujolais, so it should come as no surprise that her wine made it to the top of my recommended list. All of her cuvées are exceptional but this one was my personal favorite. Layers of floral (violet and a touch of rose) interplay with soft raspberry and cranberry. It’s the perfect patio wine – thirst-quenching, excellent with food, but not so easy to drink that it comes off as simple. You will definitely want to keep this one in stock!
Mee Godard, Morgon, “Corcelette”, 2020 ($37, Somm Cellars)
I have a love-hate relationship with Morgon. For so long, this appellation was everyone’s go-to because it was easy to say, well-distributed, and medium-bodied enough that those who prefer more heavy-hitting wines would be satiated. But there are so many other crus to explore! I got fed up with every Morgon I tried – they all seemed to taste the same and everyone lauded the exact same producers and the exact same plots. That is of course until I tried Mee Godard’s “Corcelette”. What a beauty. 2020 was an exceptionally hot year in Beaujolais so many cuvées were just a bit too full for me – but not this one. The balance is impeccable. You can feel Godard’s commitment to perfection in every sip. The first word that comes to mind? Elegance. You’ll first get notes of blackberry and a bit of kirsch, but on the palate it evolves to show earthy and clove notes. I took a few bottles of this home and already need some more! Too good to pass up.
Guy Breton, “Le Mary-Lou”, Beaujolais-Villages, 2021 ($31, The Underground Bottle Shop)
I didn’t spend too much time at the renowned “Gang of Four” during my trip, but I did venture over for a visit to Guy Breton – known to his friends simply as “Max”. It’s impossible to visit Beaujolais without paying respect to at least one of these four members simply for the movement they started in the region after decades of over-industrialization. Some natural Beaujolais goes a little too far but Breton’s “Mary-Lou” cuvée is lovely, bright, and crying out for a summer barbecue. Juicy, light, and drinkable with notes of strawberry and bramble, this is definitely an excellent one to keep around for a party.
Domaine Chardigny, Saint-Amour, “A La Folie”, 2021 ($15, Sokolin Fine Wine)
Upon recommendation from our Airbnb host (read more about that adventure here in my Beaujolais Travel Guide!), we ventured over to Domaine Chardigny in Leynes on a whim. We had no idea what type of wines we’d find but were pleasantly surprised to find some truly excellent cuvées from around Mâcon and northern Beaujolais. This one in particular, the only Saint-Amour in the lineup, stole me. This wine is a STEAL at $15! If I had room in my apartment, I’d keep a case around. I loved how this wine felt closer to something you’d find in true Bourgogne versus Beaujolais. You’ll get notes of forest floor, mushroom, and a little bit of bramble fruit – but not at the level you’d expect from a Beaujolais cru. This wine is beautifully balanced and the domaine hasn’t yet gotten the renown it deserves. Keep Chardigny on your radar!
Michel & Sylvain Tête, Domaine Clos du Fief, Chénas, 2022
Our first tasting in Beaujolais was at Domaine Clos du Fief and it set us up for a wonderful week in the region. The domaine is in many ways textbook Beaujolais: practicing lutte raisonnée (“reasoned fight” – only uses chemicals in the vineyard when absolutely necessary to save the fruit), loves the tradition of Cru Beaujolais, ensures all its crus are aged in concrete (known as cuve béton – a specificity of the region), and has almost always ensured its wines are made by plot – just like in neighboring Bourgogne. Chénas is Beaujolais’ smallest cru, so most winemakers don’t make wines from this appellation. I was delighted to try the Tête’s 2022 rendition, which is soft and supple with notes of sour cherry and a little bit of white pepper. If you can find a bottle of this, bring it home!
Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Champs de Cour, 2021 ($74, Wine.com)
There is perhaps no other domaine more emblematic of Beaujolais crus’ potential than Château du Moulin-à-Vent. The château’s newest owner, Edouard Parinet, has ambitious plans for the prestigious Moulin-à-Vent appellation and strives to create even better wines year after year. The domaine is organic (though not officially certified), incorporates elements of biodynamics, and is focused on the purest expressions of the appellation through the Burgundian tradition of parcel-driven cuvées. This particular wine, Champs de Cour, comes from 50-year-old vines. It is an excellent example of how both power and finesse come together – in fact I find this in many of CMAV’s wines and am always floored when I taste them again. Beautiful notes of fresh black cherry and blueberry shine through. The mouthfeel is soft and velveteen. It might be a little pricier than many other Beaujolais on this list but it’s a very special wine that’s meant to age. If you haven’t yet explored many wines from this producer, I highly recommend you do.
Prunelle de Navacelle, Régnié, 2021 ($36, Wine Chateau)
I am unapologetic at how much I love the wines from Prunelle de Navacelle. (She is one of two producers who made it onto both this list and a Beaujolais Cru Roundup I published last year!) Whether you drink this one in Beaujolais with a stunning view of the Lantignié hills or at home, it simply does not disappoint. I love how fruit interplays with herbaceous notes in this wine. The first time I tasted it, it was plum and strawberry – this time, I immediately tasted some beautiful herbes de Provence (or – herbes de Beaujolais?!) and blue stone. It is a truly beautiful wine to drink and is one I’ll continue to come back to again and again.
Domaines Pierre Chermette, Fleurie, “Les Garants”, 2021 ($28, Weygandt Wines)
The wines from Chermette are among the most underrated in Beaujolais. If ever you are looking for textbook wines from this region, Chermette should be on your radar. The family has been making wines in Beaujolais since the 1800s and their savoir-faire of the region is unmatched. Their wine portfolio spans nearly all of Beaujolais – from simple Beaujolais and Beaujolais Blanc all the way up to the crus. “Les Garants” is a textbook Fleurie, with notes of red fruit, violet, and even a little spice. If you love Fleurie as I do, you won’t be disappointed by this one!