The Beaujolais is a French AOC wine, almost all Beaujolais wines are reds of the Gamay grape but like most AOC wines are not labelled varietally. Whites from the region, which make up only 1% of its production, are made with Chardonnay grapes. Beaujolais tends to be a very light bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity which makes it less a casual sipping wine and one more suited to food.
Most Beaujolais should be drunk within the first three years of its life. Only the best examples of the ten “crus” listed below – and produced by the best vintners – improve with age for up to ten years.
Wines labeled simply “Beaujolais” account for 50% of the production. Beaujolais Villages makes up 25% of the region’s production, and comes from better vineyard sites in and around the ten “crus” in the north part of Beaujolais. Wine from these individual crus, which make up the balance, can be more full-bodied, darker in color, and significantly longer lived. Unfortunately for the unknowing wine drinker, these wines do not usually use the word “Beaujolais” on the label, leaving one with little recourse but to memorize the list. The ten crus are: Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Saint-Amour, Chiroubles, Chénas, Fleurie, Juliénas, and most recently, Régnié.
By far, the largest production comes from the négoçiant Georges Duboeuf, who makes the well-known “flower labels”.
Some of the major tourist attractions are the Gothic abbey church of Saint-Seine-l’Abbaye and the Romanesque abbey church at Saulieu, as well the Château de Bussy Rabutin at Bussy-le-Grand. The Abbey of Cîteaux, headquarters of the Cistercian Order, lies to the east of Nuits-Saint-Georges in the south of the département.