By Rick Riozza

Our past two columns have been following the path—and vineyard path!—of the 2023 Tour de France, the premier world class bicycle race. There’re a few days left to catch the final stages (on the USA Network) and the ultimate final race where one rider claims victory on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, France.

Of particular note for this column, The Guardian just wrote, “The Basque rider Ion Izagirre, riding for Cofidis, won stage 12 from Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais in the Rhone, after a solo attack in the final 30km. After another frantic opening to the stage, in which multiple riders fought to break-away from the peloton, the race eventually settled down, only after a close to 80km attacking run, with two main groups battling for control of the situation.”

Ahhh—Beaujolais! I don’t know of any other French wine that brings such a smile to the hearts & minds of the wine enthusiasts around the world. It’s the most popular wine ordered in the Parisian bistros; it’s the wine celebrated everywhere when its “nouveau” version (the youngest wine served anywhere) is opened on the 3rd Thursday of November; where the “villages” version is a fresh tasty light red wine that makes the charcuterie platter shine, and the “cru” version from any of the established 10 mini-regions in Beaujolais, can match any world class wine on the dining room table.


Pronounced BOE-zhol-lay and not Boo-jue-lay, Beaujolais has something for everyone. From light-hearted nouveau to somm-favorite “cru”, the French wine region produces a range of styles. Made from the acidic and fruity Gamay Noir grape, Beaujolais is lighter-bodied and lower-alcohol than most reds and offers a relatively inexpensive alternative to similar styles from nearby Burgundy.

Wine critics always wax poetic, “In one of the marriages of grape & ground, the French regard as mystical, the Beaujolais sandy clay over granite, the Gamay grape—undistinguished virtually everywhere else—gives uniquely fresh, vivid, fruity, light, but infinitely swallowable wine.

“The Gamay grape is in its element here in Beaujolais. Each Gamay vine there is staked individually, without trellising. Its plants are almost like people, leading independent lives: after ten years they are no longer trained, but merely tied up in summer with an osier to stand free. A Gamay vine will live as long as a human”. Hugh Johnson’s World Atlas of Wine.

And of course we love the fact that Beaujolais is made by carbonic maceration, in which whole bunches go into the vat uncrushed, and, the grapes thereafter ferment internally—a high speed fermentation that emphasizes the characteristic smell and flavor of the fruit and minimizes tannins and malic acid.

As mentioned earlier—the “nouveau” is fun for the “first taste of the harvest” and for parties; the “villages” for the bistro fare and the table; the “cru” for the love of wine.

The “ten Crus” of Beaujolais are all contained within a zone of steep hills only 15 miles in length! I passed up the region twice when seeking out the area—and I was as thirsty as ever looking for the place.

Each Cru has a personality of its own be it flowery, soft, crisp, mineral-driven, and fragrant to rich, brooding and desiring some time in the bottle for the heady pungency to evolve. For those who are yet acquainted with the diversity of Beaujolais, simply Google the 10 Crus to see which of them interest you and have the best of wine times, tasting the area you like.

And now, a some Beaujolais recommendations: 2021 Château Thivin, Côte De Brouilly ($40). For a fancy Cru Beaujolais whose beautiful country French label will bump up the presentation of the dinner table, this Brouilly Cru wine is an excellent example of what this region can produce. It’s an exceptionally fresh red with all of the depth and mineral-intensity that this hill-top cru in Beaujolais is known for, with aromas and flavors of raspberry, smoke, mushrooms, and roses.

2021 Julien Sunier Régnié ($35) Cru Régnié produces vibrant, aromatic, peppery examples of Beaujolais. The region is currently home to a growing wave of young, organic winemakers producing fresh reds that speak to exactly where they’re from. This Régnié is spicy and elegant, with lots of aromatic intensity packed into a light-bodied frame, with aromas of raspberry, peach, white pepper, lily.

For a value consideration: Domaine du Clos du Fief 2020 Tradition (Juliénas); ($20) This bright and juicy Gamay is marked by flavors of red berries, crushed rocks, rose petals, and earth. For those who love to chill their light reds a bit—this is the deal!

Come autumn, a couple of the most cherished red wines to meet the season are our favorite Morgon, and, Moulin-à-Vent Cru Beaujolais. They own a deep, dark sort of sultry quality to its cherry, pepper, flowers, clove, cranberry, dark berry, violet, raspberry & spice aromas & flavor profile. We’ll be writing on these baby boomers come the season.

By the way—unknown to most folks, but now you know—a Beaujolais Blanc, is simply a Chardonnay which grows exceptionally well in Beaujolais; it’s just much harder to find. Rounded and fruity, the Beaujolais Blanc is seductive. In other words, this is the newest sexy wine to show off at your patio parties this summer.

More on all of this bountiful Beaujolais later—so stay tuned! Cheers!