Posted on 16.10.20 Wine of the Week

#WOTW: for brilliant Beaujolais, enjoy a luxury Crus

I have younger friends for whom ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ means nothing. And that’s a good thing, quite frankly, as I am old enough to remember it well – and it put me off Beaujolais wines for years.

For the uninitiated, ‘nouveau’ once entailed a mad rush to get the first wines of the new vintage to the brasseries of Paris or Lyon. It was a novelty that became a great marketing stunt in the 1970s and 80s. Unfortunately, it was a victim of its own success, heavily influencing many drinkers’ perceptions of Beaujolais including – for a while – my own. These young, raw and rustic wines were frequently forgettable, which is a great shame as, these days, the grape that’s used in all red Beaujolais, Gamay, is one of my absolute favourites.

The wines come with an easy-to-understand pyramid structure: at the bottom, there’s Beaujolais, then Beaujolais Villages, with the top wines coming from the ‘Crus’ – 10 different villages that each offer a subtly distinctive take on the grape, mostly, but not exclusively, reflecting the region’s granitic soils. The Cru name is displayed prominently, with some labels making only scant reference to the Beaujolais appellation.

Chiroubles is one such Cru and those brilliant buyers at the Co-op have found a really lovely example of it, at a great price. Chiroubles Cru de Beaujolais (£10 at most Co-op stores) is bursting with vibrant raspberry and cheery cherry fruit. It is silky smooth and wonderful with just a light chill (take it out of the fridge an hour before drinking). A perfect partner for paté, thanks to its cut-through acidity, this would also work really well with a roast chicken supper or stuffed mushroom.

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