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Home Winners > Winners 2012 > FRANCE: Beaujolais

Winner Details

FRANCE: Beaujolais

This once-derided region built on its success last year with more medals, good pricing and a lot of positive feedback from the tasters


Beaujolais was, without doubt, the big winner of last year’s competition. From having been an add-on in the Burgundy category, it took to its wings and flew, with some of the most positive feedback of the entire competition.

Buoyed by another decent vintage, it kept on riding the thermals this year. If last year was all about the joyous voluptuousness of the 2009s, the rather more restrained style of 2010 was still well received. 

‘There were wines here with a completely different style, with very fresh cherry flavours and tannins and acidity that were really refreshing. It was much better than I was expecting,’ said Madison Restaurant & Bar’s Irina Atanasova.

This was a category that garnered its medals in the beating heart of the on-trade’s business, from £6 to £16, picking up many friends along the way with its ability to provide decent amounts of finesse and food-friendliness at impressively low prices.

‘They’ve had some really good vintages and there’s some very interesting work going on with natural winemaking,’ said journalist Sarah-Jane Evans MW. ‘Beaujolais has certainly moved on. It’s not just about bubblegum and carbonic maceration now.’

‘There was more minerality,’ agreed Galvin Restaurants’ Andrea Briccarello. ‘Earthy, drier styles – very good with food; not the usual fruity bubblegum styles. They give you a lot of options on the list.’

Beaujolais was one of the few places anywhere in this year’s competition that had the majority of its medal winners under £10, yet, in wines like the Lapierre Morgon, could still justifiably claim to have wines of genuine ambition. This powerful-yet-delicate, savoury, mineral wine was unlucky not to pick up a place on the Gold List.

But in the end only one Gold was given out, to Domaine Cheysson from Chiroubles, one of the softest, most expressive of the region’s crus, that delivered both elegance and approachability under £10. ‘I thought it had a good blend of typicity of Beaujolais with an added cut-pomegranate note which you don’t expect. It would go with a nicely spiced, grilled or pan-fried tuna steak,’ said The Anderida’s Nick Chiu.

‘I liked the fact that there was a range of prices and styles,’ said Sara Bachiorri of The Glasshouse. ‘It’s good to give your customers a range of options, from the cheap and cheerful to other more “sommelier” wines, something different that you can be introduced to. I couldn’t put an £80 Beaujolais on my list – but maybe someone can!’

And maybe next year (provided the winemakers can make something drinkable out of the scratchy 2011 vintage) the tasters at SWA 2013 will agree. Certainly the momentum suggests it won’t be long before we see a spread of Golds here.

‘The 2010 Beaujolais are not as voluptuous as the 2009s, but they have good Beaujolais aromas.’ Olivier Marie, Le Coq d’Argent