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Beaujolais

Although Beaujolais is officially within Burgundy, it is usually treated as an independent French wine area. We do this because Beaujolais wine has its own identity which is further strengthened by the considerable publicity that surrounds this individually-minded Burgundian brother.

 The most famous   Beaujolais is the new wine or Nouveau, which is introduced each year with much ado. There is much more though to discover in the Beaujolais, with at least twelve different appellations.

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The area

Beaujolais starts about 6 miles (10 kilometres ) south of Macon, in the department of Rhône. It is a relatively small area about 37 miles by 71/z miles (60 km long by 12 km) wide that spreads itself across a ridge of hills that border the valley of the Saône. The area is subdivided into two sub-regions: in the north Haut-Beaujolais where the best wines are made, the 10 crus, and Beaujolais Villages. The   soil   is predominantly granite and quartz fragments on a bed of slate.

The southern part or Bas-Beaujolais has soil that is a mixture of clay and chalk. The everyday white, rose, and red Beaujolais are produced from these vineyards.

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The vineyards

Only about 2% of the vineyards are planted with Chardonnay. The extremely rare white Beaujolais is made from these grapes. The remainder of the vineyards   are   planted with the Gamay grape. Some   rose   but   mainly reds are made from Gamay.

The preparation of Beaujolais

In recent decades the growers of Beaujolais have realised that improvement and above all greater environmental awareness in the protect­ ion   of their   vineyards, combined   with   better equipment and hygiene in the wine cellar improves the quality of the wine. Consequently far less sulphate fertiliser is now used and wine-makers control temperature far better duringvinification.

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This protects the characteristics of   the   soil,   climate, and grape far better. Unfortunately there are still growers in Bea u jolais who want to make a profit as quickly and as cheaply as possible - a scandal  for those hard -working growers who seek to improve the quality of their wine.

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