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The region of Burgundy has become synonymous with high quality red wines, but in actual fact the region consistently produces a wide variety of fine wines of many different styles, rigorously protected by French wine laws designed to keep reputations and quality at a very high level. The region benefits greatly from a warm and sunny summer climate, which, coupled with the excellent quality soils which typify the region, and centuries of experience and expertise, has led to the region being known all over the world for the excellence of its produce. The majority of grapevines grown here are of the Pinot Noir varietal, which has helped Burgundy become known as the definitive region for elegant and smooth red wines, but Chardonnay grapes and many others are also grown in abundance and used to make both still and sparkling wines.
The French wines of Beaujolais are widely regarded as some of the finest table wines in the world. This is due in part to the qualities of the Gamay grape, from which they are made. Gamay produces beautifully, juicy, rounded and gulpable red wines, usually drank young and full of their natural fruit character. However, it would be a mistake to say that Gamay is limited to easy-drinking, soft wines - it’s a highly flexible and versatile grape, capable of producing aged wines of serious complexity and structure, full of expression and fascinating characteristics.
The majority of Gamay wines from France are labeled under Beaujolais Villages or Beaujolais, and these are the standard table wines we’re used to seeing in French restaurants, at bistros, and at our local wine store. Usually great value for money, these are the light, slightly acidic examples of what the grape can do. Far more interesting are those Gamay wines from the 10 cru villages, just north of Beaujolais, where generations of expertise and a unique soil type made up of granitic schist result in far more unique, complicated wines. The best examples of Gamay feature intense aromatics, all black fruit and forest fare, and are worth cellaring for a few years.