Wines to Drink to Get Through a Pandemic - Part 2

Beaujolais is as anti-pandemic as you can get. It conjures scenes of sunny spring afternoons sitting at a sidewalk table at a Paris café, or backyard barbeques with friends on warm summer nights. It is a wine served to celebrate the bounty of the fall harvest. There has even been a term coined - Beaujonomie - to describe the spirit of sharing and conviviality this wine engenders. At a time when we cannot physically be together to enjoy these moments, perhaps a glass of Beaujolais can transport us there in our minds.  

A little bit of history

Often referred to as the southernmost part of Burgundy, the region of Beaujolais is best known for red wines made from Gamay (although it produces lovely white wines from Chardonnay and rosé as well). In 1395, the Duke of Burgundy banished Gamay from the land, making room for Pinot Noir on what he considered the superior hillsides of Burgundy. This was actually a good thing for Gamay "as it produces a much better wine in the granitic soils of Beaujolais, compared with the limestone escarpments of the Côte d’Or". (Source:

Thus, Gamay found its proper home, and the Beaujolais region is now responsible for four different styles of wine.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Released every year on the third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine to celebrate the end of the harvest. This very young wine is fruity, full of red berry and candied flavours and not at all meant for cellaring. The LCBO does a small release of Nouveau every November and it is worth a try. It's not exactly a mind-bending wine, but it is fun and reminiscent of sunshine in the vineyards in what is usually a dark and grey month in Canada. Serve Nouveau chilled for best enjoyment with charcuterie, cheese (Camembert and Comté work well) a fresh baguette and good friends.


Similar to Nouveau in flavour profile, this is also a simple wine meant to be drunk young. Basic Beaujolais and Nouveau wines undergo a fermentation process called carbonic maceration: whole grape bunches are placed in a tank which is pumped full of carbon dioxide gas. The gas causes intracellular fermentation, which eventually bursts the grapes open and releases the juice for regular alcoholic fermentation to start. Carbonic maceration is responsible for the sweet fruit, banana and bubble gum notes in these wines as well as their easy drinking structure (not much tannin).

Beaujolais Villages

This category includes 39 villages in the northern part of the region. These wines have the potential to be higher quality than regular Beaujolais but are usually still very fresh and fruity and meant to be consumed young. These wines pair well with grilled salmon, ham and cheese quiche or any kind of tapas.

Note: Beaujolais likes a chill - give these wines 20 minutes in the fridge before you pour!

Cru Beaujolais

Considered the best of Beaujolais, the 10 Crus produce more serious wines. Traditional fermentation (not carbonic maceration) and often barrel aging result in wines with more complexity and age-ability. Usually pretty fairly priced, the wines can display amazing elegance and structure. Here is a quick description of each of the Crus, paraphrased from longer descriptions on (a great resource for information about wine, just don't stop reading my stuff).

St-Amour - Home to two styles of wine: a light, fruity and floral wine and a more robust, spicy wine that becomes more Pinot-like with age.

Juliénas - Floral and fruity, aromas of strawberry, peach, violet and cinnamon are common; the wines also have power, structure and terrific aging potential.

Chénas - The smallest and rarest Cru, the name refers to ancient oak forests that once covered the hillsides. The wines often have a ‘woodsy’ quality and notes of rose and iris, plus silky tannins.

Moulin-à-Vent - “The King of Beaujolais,” these are the most tannic and full-bodied wines. When young there are plum, cherry and violet notes and with age dried fruits, earthy truffles and spice.

Fleurie - The wines are lighter in style and highly aromatic with roses, iris and violet along with ripe red fruits.

Chiroubles - Refined, suave, silky, and elegant with perfume of peaches and raspberry mixed with Lily of the Valley and baking spices.

Morgon - These are wines meant to age 5–10 years and will transform from young, fleshy palates of peach, apricot, cherry, and plum into earthy wines reminiscent of Burgundian Pinot Noir.

Regnié - Lots of organic vineyards in this area producing wines with peach, cherry, black currant, and raspberry flavours.

Côte de Brouilly - Easy drinking wines that have aromas of fresh grape juice and cranberries, a silky mouthfeel and bright, refreshing acidity.

Brouilly - One of the original areas allowed to sell its wines to the Parisian market as far back as 1769. Volcanic soils lend an energy to the wines' jammy plum and strawberry, red currants, and peach.

The diversity of Beaujolais can get lost in the region's reputation for producing fun and frivolous wines meant for patios and parties, but we should never underestimate what Cru Beaujolais can deliver in terms of flavour, structure and food pairing potential. On your next (careful and socially distant) trip to the LCBO give this bottle a try:

Stéphane Aviron Vieilles Vignes Moulin-à-Vent 2017

$23.95  |  VINTAGES#:  368134

Made from old vines, some more than 100 years, the wine pours a lovely medium ruby in the glass. On the nose it has ripe raspberry and cherry with smoky minerality, baking spice, a bit of composting earth. The palate is bright, with more tart cherry, a slice of mineral, wet earth, lively acid and satifsying tannins. A dry, earthy finish lingers for some time. I served it with chicken in a mushroom sauce and it was delicious. It will also pair beautifully with a rare steak.

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and enjoy your wine.