The many faces of Gamay
Technically a part of greater Burgundy, Beaujolais lies immediately south of the Maconnais, but in terms of its soil, its dominant grape variety, and its overall spirit, Beaujolais is a region all its own. Comprising ten cru appellations clustered in the northern part of the region and more generically labeled Beaujolais-Villages and Beaujolais in the southern part, the region is notable for its granite soils—a geological departure from the limestone that dominates the Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise, and Maconnais. Furthermore, it is Gamay, not Pinot Noir, that reigns in Beaujolais, and it is produced in a greater variety of methods than elsewhere in Burgundy—including, traditionally, semi-carbonic maceration, whereby grapes begin fermenting inside their skins before they are crushed, thereby producing softer and fruitier wines. Still, terroir rules the day in Beaujolais, and the differences between the ten crus—as well as the variations within each cru—are striking.