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A few important/interesting sites...
South/Southeast facing slopes on the western side of Beaujolais. Soils are largely decomposed sandy pink granite. Fleurie's vineyards are amongst the highest in the region.
MOULIN A VENT
Pink granite soils rich in Manganese, a toxic mineral to plants that naturally reduces vigour and yield. The result is concentrated fruit and the potential for more tannin then most sites in the region.
COTE DE BROUILLY
The vineyards on the dormant volcano Mount Brouilly, rising up to a modest 300m. The soils are marked by the presence of the volcanic rock diorite, known locally as blue stone. The thin volcanic soils and steep, sun exposed slopes make this a unique site for the region.
The vineyards of Beaujolais sit on a series of hills between the foothills of the Massif Central to the west, and the Soane river plain to the east. To the north lies Macon and to the south the city of Lyon.
Beaujolais is further divided up into 10 crus, or named sites/villages. Underneath this are the wines labelled Beaujolais-Villages (essentially un-named sites) and below that again generic "Beaujolais" (which can come from anywhere in the region). The 10 named sites are: Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent, Regnie, Brouilly, Cote-de-Brouilly, Chiroubles, St Amour, Julienas and Chenas.
For a large part of the 20th century Beaujolais was not particularly well regarded. Beaujolais Nouveau, wine released as soon after ferment as possible, dominated the market to the detriment of quality. Today things could not be any more different. The quality is high and there are a host of excellent producers using minimal intervention and organic viticulture.
Gamay as a grape has the ability to produce wines full of fruit vibrancy, especially when combined with the semi-carbonic wine making method used in the region. When you have Gamay grown on its preferred terroir (granite!) by quality minded producers the result is wines that are both serious and joyously drinkable.
Climate and Terroir
The region combines continental influences from its place sitting between the Alps and Massif Central, with Mediterranean influences from the south. The result is a largely continental climate with a warm, sunny growing season. The soil is largely decomposing granite over a schist bedrock, with clay and limestone in patches.
Gamay Noir dominates in a big way here, making up the vast majority of plantings. Alongside this is a small amount of Chardonnay for white wine and an even smaller amount of Pinot Noir and other rare local grapes.