The top wines of Beaujolais are from the crus: the ten villages which produce the most distinctive, complex, and ageworthy reds in the region, and whose names appear on the label as individual appellations. Fleurie is the best known of them, but there are nine others which should all be given serious consideration, each with distinctive soils and microclimates lending nuance and variety to the character of their wines.
All red Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape, and it’s in the crus that this variety reaches its pinnacle. Gamay produces juicy wines with low levels of tannin, moderate alcohol (particularly in cooler vintages) and a distinctively perfumed bouquet. They are very versatile when it comes to food matching, complementing foods as diverse as poached salmon, seared tuna, roast chicken and duck and charcuterie. They also benefit from being served cool in order for the full array of flavours to be revealed.
Below you’ll find a summary of the broad differences between the crus, from north to south:
One of the smallest crus and rarely seen in the UK, the wines tend to be easy-drinking and instantly appealing, but no less serious than its neighbours.
Spicy and fuller-bodied, the wines tend to be structured and powerful with good ageing potential.
The smallest of the crus and used to be part of Moulin-à-Vent until its particular character became evident. Generally fuller-bodied, mineral wines with good purity.
This cru produces the longest-lived wines in Beaujolais, which are more on the robust side, often seeing some oak ageing.
The most famous and popular of the crus, whose pink granite soils give the wines their floral, aromatic character and silky texture.
The cru with the highest altitude and lowest average temperatures, leading to lively, bright, more delicate wines which are approachable early. Particularly successful in warmer vintages.
Second only to Moulin-à-Vent for structure and weight, predominantly granite soils produce serious, concentrated wines with plenty of ageing potential.
The youngest and least known of the crus which produces bright, appealing wines which generally are best enjoyed young.
Côte de Brouilly
On a volcanic hill with vineyards at all points of the compass, meaning wines can be made of different levels of ripeness. In general, the style tends towards the riper side, with good concentration and bouquet.
The largest and most southerly of the crus with quite diverse soils and exposures, the best wines are user-friendly, fruit-driven and appealing with a floral edge.