The Deal: Beaujolais

Is there any other wine region in the world more misunderstood than Beaujolais? A century ago, its finest vineyards rivalled the great crus of Burgundy for price and prestige. Don’t believe me? Read this story from an esteemed WL wine expert. But while the wines of Burgundy have appreciated at a truly alarming rate in the past few decades, the wines of their Southern neighbour have mostly remained stagnant.

Well, that’s not entirely true—the popularization of Beaujolais Nouveau in the 1970s by winemaker/marketer Georges DuBeouf initially brought the spotlight back to the region. Beaujolais Nouveau Day (November 17) became a huge media event, with wine being delivered all over the world to enjoy. Hooray! The only slight problem is that the Nouveau wine—simple, crushable, exceedingly light—is not a good representation of what what I’m going to call “real” Beaujolais is really about. It’s a serious wine, capable of wonderful aging and has beautiful complexity. But unfortunately, when people here the B-word all they think is fresh and fruity and light.

This, despite the ceaseless campaigning by sommeliers of the world over the last decade for people to embrace the best Beaujolais—wine that comes from the regions 10 crus—as an affordable gateway to serious French wine. Choose 20 random somms and they’ll agree on almost nothing, but all of them would happily corner you at a tasting to extoll the virtues of Brouilly, Moulin a Vent, Morgon or any of the other Cru Beaujolais.


What’s in the Bottle

The thing with the somms is (unlike when they’re trying to force you to drink dry sherry) they’re 100% right. Cru Beaujolais may represents the best value in all of drinking when you factor in pedigree, ageability, availability and, of course, taste. Here in Canada, we’ve been per capita very strong consumers of Beaujolais for a while, and in return we’re blessed with a pretty decent selection of the good stuff at very competitive prices. Here are three stone cold winners that are widely available.

3 Awesome Bottles of Beaujolais

Domaine des Billards Saint Amour 2019, $32

Now this is what I’m talking about. It looks serious, it’s $32. It’s ripe and approachable with noticeably juicy red fruit, but there’s also a structure here. It’s so wonderfully light on its feet that it makes one want to hop up and do a pirouette in recognition that wines like this exist. But in private, right?

Domaine Michel Guignier Canon Morgon 2020, $36

At first blush, this is a bit of a double-take wine in that the label looks seriously like that of the wines made by the Lapierre family, who make the most famous Morgons in the world (while also being one of the most recognized “natural” wines to boot). But there’s no shame in emulating such an esteemed winery, especially when your wine checks in at $36 (as opposed to the Lapierre’s current tariff of $52). And what’s in the bottle is a delight —spicy, expressive floral nose, some brambly berry notes—with an exceedingly long finish. All organic and from 60-year-old vines—a certified steal.


Chateau de la Chaize Cote de Brouilly “Bruhlie” 2019, $48

Ok, so I sucked you in with all this talk about affordability and then I’m trying to sneak in a bottle that’s almost $50. So fair enough–maybe not Tuesday night pizza wine for most of us. But when you compare it to its true peers—Burgundy from Santenay or perhaps Savigny Les Beaune—it’s exceedingly well-priced. There’s great concentration here (both in the intensely perfumed nose and the tight fruit on the palate) and has clear and present tannins that will steer this wine for years in your cellar. A decade would be a good start, although it’s plenty tasty right now. This would be a very thoughtful present to the wine fan who only stocks their cellar with Burgundy.

Should I Buy?

If you like Burgundy, then yes. If you like Pinot from Oregon or Sonoma Coast, then yes. If you like the richer style of California Pinot typified by Meiomi, then honestly, this probably ain’t you jam. But it goes really well with turkey. And ham.