This is not Beaujolais Nouveau! Though that season is just around the corner, Beaujolais makes many wines that are far more serious than Beaujolais Nouveau.
Beaujolais Nouveau garners its popularity because it is the inaugural wine of the vintage, the first wine from the grapes picked that year to be released. This excitement can distract from the many outstanding wines produced in the Beaujolais region.
Beaujolais is a large area covering over sixty French villages located near Lyon, the Rhone and Burgundy. The primary grapes grown in Beaujolais are Gamay, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Beaujolais is known for its unique winemaking technique of Carbonic Maceration. Instead of the traditional winemaking method of pressing the grapes to release the juices then determining the amount of skin contact, Carbonic Maceration is a method by which bunches are left entirely intact relying instead on intracellular fermentation. This technique results in lighter, fruitier wines.
Aside from Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais has ten distinct communes, called "Crus," that are distinguished for their ideal terroir; one of these ten is the commune of Fleurie. Wines coming from Fleurie tend to have a distinctive perfumed characteristic that separates them from the other Crus.
The 2006 Clos de La Roilette Fleurie is an awesome example of a Fleurie Beaujolais Cru. Dark blackcurrant and cassis fruit with sultry nuttiness and zippy acidity made it the perfect accompaniment last night's meal of braised rabbit, leeks and chestnuts. Though I tend to prefer Beaujolais in the fall, it also serves well in the summer with a slight chill.