Lyon is the capital of French cuisine. Apart from the Rhône and the Saône, it is crossed by a third river, this one of red wine, Beaujolais, which is never silty or dry.
The Beaujolais vineyard is a French vineyard located in the north of the department of Rhone and in some towns of the Saône-et-Loire. Administratively attached to the Burgundy vineyard, the production area corresponds to the foothills of the Beaujolais mountains, between Mâcon and Lyon.
Installed on ground which is essentially granite in the north and limestone in the south, it mainly produces Red wine made from the Gamay grape variety. The variety of terroirs has made it possible to create twelve appellations of controlled origin, two regional and ten municipal or local. Even if it is a very old vineyard, it is still present in the news, especially for the media aura enjoyed by Beaujolais Nouveau.
History The region has been populated for a very long time, vestiges of flint tools attest to this. The Celtic settlement made this region a territory shared between Aedui and Ségusiaves. At that time, the Romans (Columella in particular) evoke the vitis allobrogica. A grape variety from the Rhône valley, it could be the ancestor of Pinot Noir N, a grape variety originally from the Noiriens family.
During the barbarian invasions, Gouais B was imported into Western Europe. Crossed with Pinot Noir N, it will give, among others, Gamay N and Chardonnay B.
In the Middle Ages, the seigneury of Beaujolais dates back to 957, when Béraud had his château de Pierre-Aigue built above Beaujeu.
In the 1140th century, the abbey of Cluny and the lords of Beaujeu formed a military alliance. This alliance stabilizes the country of Beaujeu. In 6, a villefranche was founded on the banks of the Saône by Humbert III1400, it will be Villefranche-sur-Saône. The lords attract the favors of the local bourgeoisie and create a port to facilitate trade including that of wine. In XNUMX, Edward II de Beaujeu was dispossessed of his seigneury by King Charles VI, who gave it to Louis de Bourbon.
Modern period: In 1531, Beaujolais was reunited with the royal domain as the family stronghold of François I on the death of Louise of Savoy. In the XNUMXth century, the vineyard took off. It supplies the Lyon market thanks to the transport of barrels on the Saône. The Parisian market is more difficult to conquer, transport requiring the crossing of passes of the Beaujolais mountains to reach the Loire and the Briare canal. The railway will be a factor in the development of wine. Georges Dubœuf wines pay tribute to the transport of wine by rail in their museum in the “hameau du vin”.
Contemporary period: In 1790, the provinces of Forez, Lyonnais and Beaujolois form the department of Rhône-et-Loire, with the exception of the canton of Chapelle-de-Guinchay which passes to the department of Saône-et-Loire (hence the fact that a small part of Beaujolais is in this last department). In 1793 the department was divided into two, the Rhône and the Loire, to punish Lyon which had just revolted (by limiting its influence to a small department).
On April 29, 1930, by a decision of the civil court of Dijon, the Beaujolais vineyard was administratively attached to wine-growing Burgundy. At that time, Beaujolais did not yet enjoy great notoriety, and the link with nearby Burgundy seemed logical.
On September 11, 1936, five decrees were signed creating five appellations of origin in the Beaujolais vineyard: chénas, chiroubles, fleurie, moulin-à-vent and morgon. Added to this are the decree of September 12, 1937 which delimits the appellation “Beaujolais”, then the decree of March 11, 1938 which adds juliénas to the communal appellations, the two decrees of October 19, 1938 for the Brouilly and Côte-de- appellations. brouilly and finally the decree of August 26, 1946 which allows the names of certain municipalities (those which today form the Beaujolais-Villages appellation) to be added to the Beaujolais appellation.
Saint-Amour became a communal appellation by the decree of February 8, 1946, bringing the number of cru wines to nine. The decree of April 21, 1950 “concerning the appellation contrôlée Beaujolais-Villages” created this appellation. From 1951, the release of Beaujolais Nouveau became an event of increasing importance. Since 1985, the release date has been the third Thursday of November.
The youngest Beaujolais appellation to be created is that protecting the Régnié, by the decree of December 20, 1988, bringing the number of crus (the communal appellations) to ten.
Etymology: Beaujolais takes its name from its former capital Beaujeu. Formerly Bellojovium, the stronghold was created in 955 to endow Mathilde, sister of King Lothaire.
Vineyard: Beaujolais is located in the continuity of the Mâconnais vineyard, straddling the departments of Saône-et-Loire (in eleven municipalities in the canton of Chapelle-de-Guinchay) and Rhône (over 85 municipalities, mainly in the arrondissement of Villefranche-sur-Saône) It stretches over 55 kilometers from north to south and over 20 km wide.
The vineyard backs onto the Beaujolais mountains; it is exposed to the east or south-east. The vineyard is spread out between the first slopes, separated from the Saône by a valley too fertile for vines and the beginning of the Beaujolais forest between 450 and 550 meters depending on the exposure and the microclimate.
Orography and geology: Beaujolais wine is shared between two geological formations separated by the Nizerand river.
North of Nizerand, there is a formation of plutonic rocks (granite) known as “Fleurie granite”. This rock outcrops at altitude on very steep slopes; it disintegrates into sand of acidic pH (granitic arena). For a long time, erosion has collected sand at the foot of the relief: it is mainly in this part that the vineyard has been planted. However, the vine has also conquered the low relief, giving vines difficult to work and to mechanize with significant slopes. The vine grows on more or less deep soil, well drained by the sand and poor. These growing conditions were needed to curb the significant fertility of Gamay.
South of Nizerand is a sedimentary geological formation. These are limestone slopes between Nizerand and Azergues called "golden stones"; the gamay must be mastered there by the winegrower on a land which does not limit it. It is this part of the vineyard which is the showcase of the vineyard, visible from the A6 motorway after the Limas tollgate near Villefranche-sur-Saône. On the upstream part of the Azergues valley, the subsoil is made up of schists, centered on the municipalities of Sainte-Paule, Ternand and Létra, the gamay finds a soil with an acidic and poor pH. It gives fine, fruity, structured wines that keep well.
Climatology: The Beaujolais climate is continental. Winters are cold and relatively dry. The continental influence is reinforced by the north wind: favorable to the health of the grape, it is blessed in summer and autumn. On the other hand, in spring, it can bring devastating late frosts. The fertility of the secondary eyes of gamay N does not always make it possible to make up for the loss and give a correct yield. The Saône plays a moderating role on the harshness of the continental climate. The altitude of the slopes in relation to the river isolates most of the vineyard from the winter mists which frequently flood the Saône valley. The plots are mainly oriented towards the east or the south, sanitizing the grapes from the morning dews.
The oceanic influence is clearly attenuated by the natural shelter of the Beaujolais mountains. Sometimes the westerly winds even give a fœhn effect. This dry and warm westerly wind on the relief cleanses the vineyard and accelerates the maturity of the grapes. Beaujolais, the southernmost of the Burgundy vineyards, also receives a significant influence from the Mediterranean climate. Summers are generally sunny, helping the maturity of gamay, an early varietal. A moderate summer drought gives concentration to the grapes. On the other hand, thunderstorms are feared, particularly when they bring hail.
The range of Beaujolais wines owes part of its variety to the microclimates (linked to the slope, the exposure, the protection of the relief) as well as to the soils.
Grape variety: The red grape vines are mainly planted in Gamay N, says " white gamay black »As opposed to gamay dyers. This grape variety, excluded from Burgundy by Philippe II of Burgundy, (he nicknamed it the “very disloyal plant”) found in the granite sands of Beaujolais a terroir to its measure. It gives fine wines, very aromatic and allows to give a wide range ranging from early wine (Beaujolais Nouveau) to wine for aging which is improved by 2
more than 10 years old (windmill, morgon, etc.).
Black Gamay with white juice (an intense, limpid and lively red). It occupied more than 95% of the vineyard. Formerly nicknamed petit gamay, round gamay or even black Burgundy, this resistant and fertile variety calls for constant care to maintain its vigor and control its yields. Its development requires a dense planting density, between 6 and 000 vines per hectare.
In Beaujolais-villages and Crus, it is short pruned (known as a goblet, fan, charm or even cordon), but the Beaujolais appellation also allows long pruning. She never keeps more than 3 to 5 horns on each vine for a maximum of 10 buds (the eyes).
The white grape vines are mainly planted in chardonnay B. Even if they are negligible on the surface, they give good wines, balanced and aromatic.
Chardonnay (a straw yellow wine, with fresh and melted scents mixing lemon and white flowers). It is used to produce white Beaujolais.
Some of it is also used to make Crémant de Bourgogne. Legislation allows other grape varieties:tied up Wheat melon Wheat Pinot Gris G, the pinot noir N, the Gamay from Bouze N and the Gamay de Chaudenay N. These are accessory grape varieties, for which the specifications of the various appellations limit the use to 15% of the grape variety. In the communal appellations (the crus), only aligoté, chardonnay and melon are authorized as accessories.
Le gamaret, a new grape crossing Gamay and reichensteiner, obtained in Switzerland in the 1970s (It is very present in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud). Assembled at 10% gamay, it brings a number of advantages:
1 / maturity earlier than Gamay;
2 / rot resistance;
3 / possibility of later harvests which leads to an increase in color, aromatic intensity and tannins.
The implementation of gamaret on an experimental basis in Beaujolais dates back to 1989. Beaujolais has therefore given itself time to reflect. But with the gamaret, Beaujolais could quite simply become real wines for aging. This grape variety indeed offers tannic wines made for aging. However, we will have to wait a few more years for this programmed revolution which will perhaps put an end to consumers' disaffection for too long. But, other grape varieties knock on the door of Beaujolais, global warming obliges, like the Syrah, Viognier or Marsanne.
Harvests and controversy: Traditionally, Beaujolais wines require whole-grain harvesting to be able to be vinified by carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration. However, the first official tests of the harvesting machine have been carried out. The conclusions of comparative tastings led the national wine and brandy committee of theINAO a formally prohibit the use of the harvesting machine. However, unofficial experimentation continued in the vineyards. Initially, this operation was condemned by the INAO.
The economic situation of Beaujolais has prompted some winegrowers to make a new request. In 2004, the mechanical harvest was authorized on the only Beaujolais AOC without mention of primeur.
In 2008, 25 hectares of Beaujolais and 7 hectares of Beaujolais-Villages were authorized. The result of the vinification will give rise to comparative tastings.
The arguments of the defenders of the harvesting machine come from:
• the need to replace grape pickers who are sometimes difficult to recruit. In 2003, the early harvest, completed at the end of August, forced the winegrowers to call the harvesters to their place of vacation.
• Qualitative argument: the harvesting machine being faster, the winegrower can afford to wait for optimal maturity to harvest. When a big thunderstorm is announced, he can put the machine into operation before the arrival of humidity, which is synonymous with gray rot.
• Economic argument: Beaujolais is the only French vineyard with the Champagne vineyard to prohibit the mechanization of the harvest. However, the selling price of Beaujolais wines is at its lowest. This makes Beaujolais winegrowers say that they produce a wine with grand cru conditions to sell it at the price of table wine.
On the side of the supporters of manual harvesting, the arguments are on the one hand in favor of preserving quality by maintaining a particular vinification which is impossible with a mechanized harvest, on the other hand that the steep slopes are the more qualitative, but their slope does not allow mechanization (what will their future be if the harvesting machine becomes widespread?).
Vinification and aging: The method of carbonic maceration explains a lot the very particular type of wines that are produced there. The grapes are vatted whole and the vat closed for a few days. The saturation of the tank prevents the grapes from breathing, forcing them to an anaerobic mode of operation. This evolution inside the grape is similar to the beginning of fermentation. It produces some alcohol and aroma precursors. Then the grapes are crushed and a traditional fermentation continues. This process is called carbonic maceration. To ensure the continuity of this method of vinification, Beaujolais is made from grapes harvested manually. Harvesting machine trials are conducted in an attempt to reduce the personnel cost of a wine that sells for below its cost of production.
For wines intended to be aged and kept for several years (Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages non-primeurs, as well as Beaujolais vintages), the vinification is semi-carbonic, halfway between Burgundy vinification. The grapes are harvested manually, vatted whole without destemming. Fermentation begins as for carbonic maceration, but when the marc intended for the primeur is devatted and pressed, the vats intended for the wine for aging are drawn and maceration continues until almost complete exhaustion of sugars. The wine is then run off, the marc pressed and the malolactic fermentation can start as long as the temperature has not dropped too much.
From 1994, theITV-SICAREX du Beaujolais has developed pre-fermentation hot maceration or MPC. This technique consists of heating the harvest to 60-70 ° C for a few hours. The temperature weakens the skin of the grape. It releases color and precursors of aromas. This technique allows to extract more aromas, more tannins and more color. To be beneficial, it requires, more than for a classic maceration, a harvest at optimal maturity. The wines produced by this vinification have a more intense color, dark purple with a purplish tinge. When tasted, they present a powerful but monolithic blackcurrant aroma. The massive use of this technique creates a controversy. It is accused of standardizing wines, typified by their vinification and no longer by the terroir.
Hierarchy of Beaujolais appellations: the vineyard has two regional and ten municipal appellations of origin.
Within the vineyard, the AOC Beaujolais is the largest. It includes the whole vineyard. Most of the production of this appellation is marketed en primeur under the name “Beaujolais Nouveau”.
The central part and the northern fringe of the vineyard are eligible for the Beaujolais-Villages AOC; its largest area is located between the valleys of two rivers, the Nizerand and the Ardières. Beaujolais-Villages is produced in 38 municipalities and represents 25% of Beaujolais production: around 300 hℓ. Part of the production is sold en primeur under the name Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau.
The communal appellations: Ten communal or local appellations, called “crus du Beaujolais”, exist. They are distinguished from each other by a particular aroma:
- Brouilly: blackberry and plum
- Chénas: the peony
- Chiroubles: morello cherry, violet
- Côte de Brouilly: blueberries
- Flowery: rose, iris and mignonette
- Juliénas: fishing
- Morgon: cherry, sherry and cherry
- Windmill: the violet
- Régnié: red fruits and lilac
- Saint-Amour: mignonette.
All these vintages can be marketed under the name: “Bourgogne gamay”.
A three-level classification distinguishes Beaujolais:
1 / Beaujolais / Beaujolais Nouveau
2 / Beaujolais-Villages / Beaujolais-Villages New
3 / Superior Beaujolais.
The 5 main characteristics of Beaujolais:
Beaujolais has an indisputable international reputation. He owes it in part to his Beaujolais Nouveau but also to his ten vintages (see above). The originality of this vineyard is based on 5 elements:
1 / A unique grape variety, black gamay with white juice, which covers all of its appellations. Present in Beaujolais since the beginning of the 2010th century, this grape variety has been able to accompany the evolutions of the vineyard and collective cultural traditions. But a second grape variety will soon destroy the monopoly of Gamay. Indeed, producers of local wines from the Beaujolais region (Vin du pays des Gaules) can now plant gamaret, (which has also been authorized since XNUMX for AOCs).
2 / The highest planting density in the world, from 9 to 10 vines / ha.
3 / A manual harvest which mobilizes 35 people every year.
4 / Unique vinification in the world. It is made from whole bunches to exteriorize the aromatic potential as much as possible. Beaujolaise vinification is in fact a semi-carbonic maceration. It is a technique which consists in leaving the whole bunches of grapes in a tank hermetically closed and saturated with carbon dioxide with one objective: to extract, in 4 or 5 days, a maximum of fruity aromas and a minimum of tannins, under the effect of intra-cellular fermentation (inside the berry). For this reason, the grapes must be collected in very good condition, which prohibits the use of the harvesting machine.
5 / The steepest vineyards in France: 50% of the vineyard has hillsides with slopes greater than 20%, which offers exceptional sunshine to the countless small plots of vines. Obviously, manual work in the vines is required on these hillsides that cannot be mechanized.
The Beaujolais interprofessional intends to ask for the classification of its terroirs. This process began in 2009 and should be initiated on the Moulin-à-Vent vintage. This preliminary study will seek to delimit, characterize and name the specific areas.
Other wines produced: Legally, the Beaujolais vineyard is attached to the Burgundy vineyard by the judgment of April 29, 1930 of the civil court of Dijon, taken over by the commission charged by the decree of July 31, 1937 to create the Burgundy AOC (including for the reds of gamay de la Saône-et-Loire and Beaujolais), modified by the decree of February 24, 1942 which limits it to only white Beaujolais, then extended again to reds from Gamay on May 6, 1946 for fourteen Beaujolais municipalities (those producing the raw); today, the regional Burgundian appellations (Burgundy, Burgundy hillsides, all-grain Burgundy, Aligoté Burgundy and Crémant de Bourgogne) can be produced in 85 Rhone municipalities, i.e. the whole of Beaujolais (according to the two decrees of October 16, 200940 ). Beaujolais are also linked to Burgundy in practice, because the Burgundy trade has been a major buyer of Beaujolais since the beginning of the XNUMXth century; negotiations to merge the inter-professional organizations have so far failed.
Beaujolais nonetheless has a specificity widely consecrated by use, which means that almost all the publications mention the Beaujolais vineyard as a vineyard apart from Burgundy. The first argument is administrative, the district of Villefranche-sur-Saône (where the Beaujolais vineyard is located) belongs to the Rhône department and therefore to the Rhône-Alpes region, and not to that of Burgundy. The second argument is geological, the Burgundy vineyard is planted on clay-limestone soils, while the Beaujolais vineyard is on granite, schist or sandy soils. The third argument is historical, we can trace it back to Philippe le Hardi who in 1395 decided to use exclusively Pinot Noir for the production of red wines north of Mâcon and that of the "vil and disloyal gamay" to the south. This old demarcation continues and establishes terroirs adapted to each of the grape varieties.
The vin-de-pays-des-Gaules is a vin de pays created by a decree of November 2, 2006 on the geographical territory of Beaujolais wines. It concerns grape varieties not listed in AOC or Gamay wines harvested mechanically or planted at a lower density than Beaujolais wine. To avoid a confusion of the two wines, the vin de pays des Gaules cannot present a primeur wine (according to the decree, the red wines must "have been the subject of a period of aging of at least three months from the harvest").
Its name, considered vague, was attacked by European authorities44,45 and was not included in IGP (protected geographical indication, which replaces local wines) 46. The Beaujolais vineyard therefore currently only produces AOC wines.
Economy: A particularity of Beaujolais is the tenacious survival of sharecropping. The landowners and sharecroppers share the wine produced. This state of affairs has maintained a very powerful trade; in fact, the owners, often occupied with another profession, let the trade take care of the marketing. At the start of the 2000s, more than 80% of the volume of wine sold was sold by wine merchants.
Export: Beaujolais were exported very early on, the market being driven by the sale of Nouveau Beaujolais. However, in recent years, the export market has been declining. The volume increased from 606 hectoliters in 000 to 1996 hectoliters in 472.
In 2012, the first purchasing countries were Japan (102 hectoliters), the United States (000 hl), the United Kingdom (76 hl), Switzerland (500 hl) and Germany (56 hl) hl).
Brand image : With the disaffection of Beaujolais primeur, the other wines were dragged down in sales. The merchants having widened their range refocused their sales on other vineyards. Georges Dubœuf, local merchant and leading exporter of Beaujolais Nouveau had to face a conviction for deception in 2006. In 2008, an investigation by the gendarmerie revealed suspicions of chaptalization fraud among more than a hundred wine growers, on the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages.
Faced with a declining reputation, the profession fights and receives strong support. In 2009, the televisual Bernard Pivot, a regional of the stage and Périco Légasse, gastronomic columnist, created a support committee for beverage discriminated against. A qualitative shift has been undertaken to rationalize the treatment of the vine and reduce the use of herbicides. This approach is part of sustainable viticulture and its Terra vitis brand. This is the case with the Domaine du Breuil. A reform of mentalities is taking place and the winegrowers add to their profession that of salesperson or hotelier (guest rooms). The know-how relays the know-how.
Gastronomy: Beaujolais have long been associated with Lyon cuisine. The red wines very fruity are well suited to the local charcuterie (jesus and rosette from Lyon, brioche sausage, fries, etc.). Beaujolais barrels invite themselves to country buffets, weddings and other outdoor parties.
The 46 cl jar with a very thick bottom is used to serve Beaujolais at the counter.
The white wines and reds find good stakes with the cheeses of the region: goat cheeses, (buttons of panties, Mâconnais or Charolais) the fresh cheeses (in faisselle or the brain of canut) but also the soft cheeses with bloomy rind , (Camembert, Saint-Marcellin, Brie, etc.) or blue-veined cheeses (Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme de Montbrison, Bresse blue…).
Emblematic figures of the Beaujolais vineyard: Philippe le Hardi (1342-1404), Duke of Burgundy: he banned the cultivation of Gamay north of Mâcon, allowing him to find his favorite terroir in Beaujolais.
- Benoit Raclet (1780-1844): he discovered a remedy against the vine moth.
- Victor Pulliat (1827-1896): born in Chiroubles, he became an ampelographer and then built up a collection of over 1 grape varieties. He created the specialized newspaper le vignoble. In Beaujolais, he is considered the savior of the vineyard by his work at the time of the phylloxera invasion, because it was he who recommended the grafting of Gamay on American vines.
- Victor Vermorel (1848-1927): he invented the knapsack sprayer. Fortune made, he financed research and publications on the vine, including Ampélographie, General Treaty of Viticulture, published with Pierre Viala in seven volumes published between 1901 and 1910.
- Jules chauvet (1907-1989), wine merchant: he also studied chemistry, the influence of yeasts and types of fermentation. He is the spiritual father of natural wines.
- Louis Orizet (1913-1998), agricultural engineer by training and writer: he was inspector general of the INAO, mayor of Denicé and the inventor of Beaujolais Nouveau with Georges Dubœuf.
- Georges Duboeuf, born in 1933: winegrower then trader-breeder, the Beaujolais vineyard owes him much of its notoriety, as well as the fashion of Beaujolais Nouveau.
- Marcel Lapierre (1950-2010): winegrower, disciple of Jules Chauvet, he was all his life a defender and promoter of natural wines without sulfur.
The Beaujeu hospices: A Hôtel-Dieu was created in the Middle Ages. A testament refers to it in 1240, attesting to its existence from the 1685th century. It was intended for the elderly and needy, wanted by the lords of Beaujeu. It was rebuilt between 1705 and XNUMX.
For a long time, the leaders had to manage to make it work with irregular legacies. From the 2009th century, donations multiply, in particular in land. The domain is growing. In 81, it brought together 92 ha of vines, 10 ha of forests and a cuvage in Régnié. The vines are located in the AOC Beaujolais-villages, Régnié, Brouilly and Morgon. They are operated by 16 sharecroppers and XNUMX ha in their own business.
Every year, an auction similar to that of the Hospices de Beaune takes place at the Grange-Charton cuvage in Régnié.
Wine festivals :
- Fête des crus: Since 2000, each year, a cru has hosted this festival. The appellation, which hosts, chooses a theme and organizes festivities: gastronomic market, wine tastings, games for children… Each vintage has a space to introduce visitors to the wines of its appellation. (Saint-Amour in 2005, Régnié in 2006, Juliénas in 2007, Brouilly and côte de Brouilly in 2008, Chénas in 2009, Chiroubles in 2010 and Fleurie in 2011)
- • Fête Benoît Raclet: The last weekend of October, this festival perpetuates the memory of a benefactor of the vineyard. It has become the annual meeting place for people to discover the new vintage with wines that have just completed their fermentation, a prelude to the release of the primeurs.
- • Release of Beaujolais Nouveau: Drilling of Beaujolais Nouveau casks in Beaujeu gives rise to the Sarmentelle festival. Four days of tastings and Beaujolais chews (local snack) welcome visitors from all over the world.
The wine route: A wine route has been created on the vineyard slopes. Renovated in 2010, it takes place over 140 kilometers and runs through thirty-six towns, from Chânes to Limonest. This route marked by signs crosses the vineyard area and the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages appellations. To be part of it, each estate had to have a cellar meeting 73 qualitative criteria. 94 were selected in 2009 and 137 in 2010.
This route also gives pride of place to new technologies with GPS guidance and commented stages. (10 from the opening, but 60 are planned).
In the vineyard, wine-growing buildings are classified as historical monuments, such as the Château de la Chaize and its 108-meter-long vat, the Domaine de la Grange-Charton for its wine-growers' houses and its cuvage.
In Romanèche-Thorins, the old station was redeveloped by Georges Duboeuf to make it an original place to present the vineyard and its terroirs.