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Ahh Beaujolais, or Bojo as some like to call it. An under the radar darling that is technically part of Burgundy, but has an identity and charm all its own. While Pinot Noir reigns supreme for Burgundy Rouge, Beaujolais is all about Gamay. And if you haven’t explored these wines, there’s no better time than the present.

Some Background

Many of us know Beaujolais Nouveau, which we rush out to buy every third Thursday of November to coincide with the release of the first wine of the season in France. I know I’ve consumed a few of these with Thanksgiving dinner over the years. But there is much more to Beaujolais. Where Nouveau sits at the bottom of the quality hierarchy, the top of the pyramid is reserved for Cru Beaujolais wine. These wines represent the best of what the region has to offer.

Beaujolais Quality Pyramid

Where Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages wines are softer, fruitier, and meant to be drunk young, Cru Beaujolais is more structured and has the ability to age for years. To be considered a Cru, the grapes must come from one of the ten designated villages – Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly, and Brouilly.

Map of Beaujolais (c) Discover Beaujolais

I used to have an acronym to remember the villages from north to south as listed above but I’ve since slept a few times. Because they are Crus, the wine label is allowed to show the cru (vineyard) name only (e.g. Fleurie) instead of Beaujolais or Beaujolias Villages. And while each of the villages is a Cru in its own right, each has its own distinctive characteristics.

The Crus

While there are many things that can influence the style of a wines, these are some generalized characteristics of the various crus. And if you’re new to Beaujolais, as I explain below, I think Brouilly makes an excellent gateway wine.

Saint-Amour

As it’s name implies, this could be considered the romantic cru. As the most northerly cru, it is known for being light-bodied with soft, juicy red fruit, perfume, a floral characteristics. Easy drinking all day.

Juliénas

Dating back to the time of Julius Caesar, after which it is named, these wines sit in the middle of the Beaujolais spectrum and are medium-bodied. Heavier red fruits and some earth and spice are common characteristics.

Chénas

Being the smallest of the Crus, these are the unicorns of Beaujolais as it’s difficult to get your hands on a bottle. Best I can recall, I’ve had one. It also is a more medium-bodied wine on the Beaujolais spectrum with silky tannins, minerality, floral, and dark red fruit. 

Moulin-à-Vent

The King, Big Daddy, the Lord of the Crus – the wines of Moulin-à-Vent are some of the boldest, dense, most structured and tannic (relatively speaking) wines of Beaujolais. These are full-bodied wines that have the ability to age sometimes decades and are the most Burgundian of the crus. But as its still Gamay, these wines can still be approached in their youth. Black plum, dark cherry, violets as well as gamey and earthy characteristics abound.

Fleurie

If Moulin-à-Vent is the king, then Fleurie is the queen. Known as floral (fleur is flower in French) and aromatic wines, these wines are some of the most light-bodied of the crus. Smooth ripe reds fruits, roes, and violets abound.   

Chiroubles

Like Fleurie and Saint-Amour, this is one of the lighter-bodied styles of Cru Beaujolais. The vineyards sit at the highest altitude of all the crus which makes for delicate, fresh, and elegant wines. Red berries and floral characteristics like neighbor Fleurie. 

Morgon

Taking the role of Big Daddy Jr next to Moulin-à-Vent, these wines also show tremendous structure, concentration, and powerful tannins (for Beaujolais). Like Moulin-à-Vent, these are some of the most age-worthy Beaujolais wines. And also like Moulin-à-Vent, these wines can exhibit somewhat Burgundian characteristics. Morgon is also home to some of the most prominent producers including Thévenet, Lapierre, Breton, and Foillard.

Régnié

The youngest cru, having been granted its status in 1998, Régnié is also on the lighter side of Cru Beaujolais. Aromatic and lively with raspberry and currant flavors, it’s the one Cru Beaujolais that I simply cannot recall having. Gotta work on that.

Côte de Brouilly

Similar to Brouilly below, the difference with this one is that the vineyards are located on slopes or côtes. This provides for a more structured, elegant wine with fresh, bright fruit and notable acidity.

Brouilly

Where the vineyards of Côte de Brouilly are located on slopes, Brouilly vineyards are located on the flatland. While many view the lighter crus of Fleurie, Saint-Amour, and/or Chiroubles as the gateway Cru Beaujolais, I view Brouilly as occupying this role. The southernmost and warmest cru with much more of a Mediterranean influence, the wines of Brouilly have rich, ripe, fleshy fruits and are capable of pleasing a wide spectrum of palates. These are the quintessential table wines that you find in French cafes. 

Pairing Cru Beaujolais with Mushroom Tetrazinni

When it comes to pairing wines, Beaujolais is like Riesling1 and Pinot Noir in that it has the ability to pair with a wide range of foods. It’s one of those wines that you can order when everyone at the table is ordering something different. Of course, the weight of the food will impact how well the wine pairs and as we’ve seen above, Cru Beaujolais runs the spectrum from light to full-bodied. So to see how the weight of the wine impacts how well it pairs with a dish, I paired Cru Beaujolais from each end of the spectrum with our weekly “Meatless Monday” meal (which sometimes falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday) of Mushroom and Spinach Tetrazinni.

Mushroom & Spinach Tetrazinni

I did a side by side comparison of the 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive Fleurie Carolon from the lighter end of the spectrum and the 2015 Yohan Lardy Vieilles Vignes de 1903 Moulin-à-Vent from the heavier end. I chose an older Moulin-à-Vent as it’s typically a bolder wine and I wanted to be sure it had some years in the bottle to mellow some.

Jean-Louis Dutraive Fleurie Carolon & Yohan Lardy Moulin-à-Vent

Right away on the nose of the Fleurie I picked up some vivid aromatic floral notes while the Moulin-à-Vent had prominent black fruit, spice, and graphite aromas. Tasting it, the Fleurie had lots of red fruit, sour cherry, roses, and tingly acidity. The Moulin-à-Vent had much more earthy characteristics in addition to its fruit. This was a more concentrated wine with more black fruits than red, but there were still some cherry present as well. So which paired better? Honestly, they both paired well, which was not was I was expecting.

Hands down, the Fleurie was great with the dish. That acidity just cut through the rich cream and cheese but also complemented the earthiness of the mushrooms. The surprising Moulin-à-Vent also paired quite well with tetrazzini as it too had some notable acidity and it loved the mushrooms. In fact, I went back and forth as to which wine I liked better with the dish.  If forced to choose, I may give the slight edge to the Fleurie, but seriously, I couldn’t go wrong with either.

Cru Beaujolais Paired w/ Tetrazinni

And while we’ve spent this time waxing poetic about the Crus, please know that Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages can be tasty, delightful wines in their own right. Also, be sure sure to check out what my fellow #Winophiles paired with their Cru Beaujolais.

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm experiences “A Casual COVID19 Visit with Charcuterie and Chateau de Poncie Le Pre Roi Fleurie”

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam pairs “Tuna Pâté + Joseph Drouhin Hospices De Belleville Brouilly 2016”

Jill at l’Occasion explores “Soil + Wind: Tasting Cru Beaujolais with Château du Moulin-à-Vent”

Payal of Keep the Peas is “Welcoming Summer with a Berry Delicious Brouilly”

Lynn at Savor the Harvest finds “Fleurie – The Princess Queen of Beaujolais Crus #Winophiles”

Jane at Always Ravenous explores “Cru Beaujolais: Tasting and Food Pairings”

Jeff at Food, Wine, Click enjoys “Cru Beaujolais at the Grill”

Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Flowers for Julien – Beaujolais in May”

Linda at My Full Wine Glass discovers “Gamay and Granite – A Beaujolais Love Story #Winophiles”

Susannah Gold at Avvinare finds “Cru Beaujolais – An Endless Discovery”

Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing discovers “Cru Beaujolais – Cedric Lathuiliere Fleurie Paired with Frog Legs #Winophiles”

Nicole at Somms Table explains “Julien Sunier Régnié and a Focaccia Fail”

Lauren at The Swirling Dervish meets “Morgon de Jean-Pau Thévenet, One of the Beaujolais Gang of Four”

Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog considers “A Taste of Chénas, Beaujolais’ Rarest Cru”

Over at Grape Experiences, I’m loving “The Wines of Fleurie – An Enchanting Introduction to Cru Beaujolais”


  1. Be sure to check out my most recent love affair with Riesling.

19 Comments

  1. robincgc
    4 months ago

    I love the cool “Bojo” name for Beaujolais. As I explore the Crus I will refer back to your list of descriptions of each. I think I lean toward the more elegant Crus (I have fallen for Fleurie) and will expand into Saint-Amour and Chirobles next! The Fleurie looks so light in your glass! Was it really that light and bright a color!? So cool!

    Reply
    1. Kat
      4 months ago

      Thanks so much for checking it out! And yes, the Fleurie was so much lighter in the glass!

      Reply
  2. Lori
    4 months ago

    this is my mnemonic:
    Should Julia Child mold flour cherubs making regal beautiful children?

    Reply
    1. Kat
      4 months ago

      I may have to try to remember that one.

      Reply
  3. Cindy
    4 months ago

    I love your side by side comparisons of these excellent wines with the tetrazzini – I’ll have to remember this recipe and do the same! Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Kat
      4 months ago

      It was neat to compare/contrast the styles.

      Reply
  4. Lynn
    4 months ago

    The color of the Fleurie in the second photo, is that due to the reflection of the roses?!? Regardless, super photo! And the Tetrazinni… been years for me. Conjuring up your dish as bites made in a muffin tin with a Cru the next time we’re able to have guests for apéro.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      4 months ago

      Thanks! And no, I was surprised by how light the Fleurie was in the glass too.

      Reply
  5. Lauren
    4 months ago

    I’m not sure which I’m craving more: the two wines you tasted, or that decadent dish! Big yum on both counts. As for the winning pairing, I don’t think I’d have been able to choose one, either.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      4 months ago

      I went back and forth and then had to practically declare a tie.

      Reply
  6. Fleurie - The Queen of Beaujolais Crus - Savor the Harvest
    4 months ago

    […] Kat at The Corkscrew Concierge is Exploring the Differences & Pairing Versatility of Cru Beaujolais. […]

    Reply
  7. Linda Whipple, CSW
    4 months ago

    Wow! My Fleurie was much deeper red but just as food-friendly. Love side-by-side comparisons. Would be difficult to choose a favorite from your descriptions.

    Reply
  8. Nicole Ruiz Hudson
    4 months ago

    What a great pairing! Mushroom & Spinach Tetrazinni seriously has my mouth watering. And in the pic where both wines are poured, you can see the color difference so clearly — looks like they’re excellent examples of the different ends of the Bojo spectrum!

    Reply
  9. Jeff Burrows
    4 months ago

    Your tetrazinni sounds great with a Cru Beaujolais. I was also surprised by the light color in the Fleurie, I’d be interested in the winemaking differences between the two wines.

    Reply
  10. Payal Vora
    4 months ago

    I agree that Brouilly is the gateway Cru Beaujolais cru. And I love the food pairing and side-by-side tasting of the two Crus!

    Reply
  11. Cru Beaujolais: Tasting and Food Pairings - Always Ravenous
    4 months ago

    […] Kat at The Corkscrew Concierge is Exploring the Differences & Pairing Versatility of Cru Beaujolais. […]

    Reply
  12. Jane
    4 months ago

    I am coming to your house for Meatless Monday, two Cru Beaujolais wines and Mushroom Tetrazinni…YUM!!
    I am with everyone else, surprised how much lighter in color the Fleurie is.

    Reply
  13. MARTIN D REDMOND
    4 months ago

    That Spinach and Mushroom Tettrazini sounds like a great Meatless Monday choice. And hey, you can’t go wrong with mushrooms and Bojo! Love the color of the Fleurie, though it’s a bit of a surprise. Cheers Kat!~

    Reply
  14. Flowers for Julien – Beaujolais in May #Winophiles | Crushed Grape Chronicles
    2 months ago

    […] Kat at The Corkscrew Concierge is “Exploring the Differences & Pairing Versatility of Cru Beaujolais” […]

    Reply

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