Beaujolais – accounting for about half the wine produced here, it comes from the Bas Beaujolais and the flatter land to the west of Belleville
Beaujolais Superieur – is essentially from the Beaujolais appellation but must have a minimum potential alcohol of 10.5% when picked (as opposed to 10% for simple Beaujolais)
Beaujolais-Villages accounts for about 25% of production and is sourced from the hills of the northern part of the Beaujolais region.
Beaujolais Crus - of which there are ten, are found in this northern part and each bears the name of the commune of its origin. From north to south (approximately) the Crus are: St.-Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Brouilly and Cote de Brouilly
Beaujolais Nouveau – this may carry the appellation of Beaujolais, Beaujolais Superieur or Beaujolais-Villages. It is very young and generally considered to be for immediate consumption.

Producers: The four small producers most recognizable (mainly due to the wine press) are Marcel LaPierre, Guy Breton, Jean Foillard and Jean-Paul Thevenet. This “gang of four” regularly gets high 80 and low 90 point ratings from Parker and others.
Other producers of note are Dom. Vissoux, Louis Jadot, Jean-Paul Brun, Diochon, Paul Janin, Michael Chignard, Dominique Piron, Chat. Thixin, Dom. Dupeuble, Dom. de la Voute des Crozes, Jean Calot, Pierre et Paul Durdilly, Dom. du Granit, Alain Michaud, Devignes, Savoye, Jacky Janodet, Souchons, Georges Viornery, Laurent Martray and Jean-Paul Ruet. I have also had excellent and age-worthy Fleuries from Coudert a/k/a Clos de la Roilette.

Recent Vintages:
1999 – good vintage produced many tannic, structured cru wines
2000 – good vintage produced many cru wines which will mature before the 99’s
2001 – poor vintage with very few exceptions
2002 – excellent vintage with many cru wines carrying the structure of 99 and the fruit of 00
2003 – atypical vintage (very hot); some good wines
2004 – too early but appears to be similar to 2002

Personal comments:
Virtually all Beaujolais rouge is made from the Gamay grape. A small amount of Beaujolais blanc is made from chardonnay.
I find the Cru Beaujolais to be my favorite wines but I have had excellent Beaujolais-Villages and a few good wines from the other appellations. I find that in excellent vintages, Cru Beaujolais from very good producers can age and develop very easily for 3-5 years and, in exceptional cases, up to ten years (sometimes, more).
A bit more Beaujolais lore; the older vines have very small grapes, usually with thick-ish skins, and are still found on a rootstock called Viala which is apparently the best for gamay. Moulin-à-Vent, Côte de Brouilly, and Morgon are considered to be best for cellaring. There is a domaine called 'Souchons' in Morgon which has vines close to eighty years old, magnificent wine. Alain Michaud does an old vine cuvee (Cuvee Prestige) of Brouilly which is superb.

I also find that each of the Cru is, in the best of producer’s hands, capable of exhibiting its own terroir. This is especially true of those wines capable of aging. Here is a brief description (IMO) of the wines from the crus:

Moulin-a-Vent: The most Burg-like (Beaune-like) of the 10 crus, these often show less forward fruit, higher acidity and more tannin than any others. If you want to age a cru, this is traditionally the one to pick.

Julienas: These wines can show some real structure under loads of forward fruit - so they are among the more age-worthy (3-4 years) of the crus. I've found these to be more fleshy than Moulin. I think Julienas and Morgon run more in the blackberry crowd than the other crus.

Morgon: Dense wines (for Beaujolais), approaching the stature of Moulin-A-Vent in the best cases, while still giving the impression of being wholly Beaujolais. Can have the stuffing for some age.

Chenas: The smallest of the crus, so these wines are less often seen around here. Most of the best land is now part of Moulin-A-Vent, I think. I feel that the wines have less density than Moulin-A-Vent or Julienas, and lack the aromatic quality that Fleurie and Chiroubles. It often leaves something missing, for my tastes at least. Then again, I haven't had more than a handful of really interesting Chenas.

Fleurie: Lighter in nature, but perhaps the most aromatically and texturally complete of the crus, often with a floral element beneath the ripe fruit. I think that the "crunchy fruit" quality of Beaujolais really shows in good Fleurie. For these reasons, they are usually best young (although Coudert’s wines are notable exceptions). Very pretty wines.

Chiroubles: Similar to Fleurie, but often a bit less dense. Think elegance and lightness. Is Chiroubles the Volnay of Beaujolais?

Brouilly: I've found them to be missing something, as they don't have the size of the age-worthy crus and aren't as fun to drink young as Fleurie and Chiroubles. Still, they can show some nice prominent red fruit balance with structure and, in the hands of Alain Michaud, can age beautifully.

Regnie: The newest of the crus. It often falls in the lower part of the pack, when you think about depth and structure - maybe a bit less complete that Chirobles, but still with many of the same qualities.

St.-Amour: One of the more lighter, softer, quaffing-friendly crus. Rarely would these be "serious" wines, but for a simple quaffer around the grill, they can be quite nice.

Cote de Brouilly: I've not had any of these, so I'll let someone else pipe in. I've read that they "fit" somewhere around Chenas.

Best, Florida Jim Cowan

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