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Our Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

Many people have heard of France’s Beaujolais wine region but sort of dismiss it as the home to Beaujolais Nouveau, the young, simple table wine that’s aged just a few weeks and released each November. While that’s true, this skinny region in the Rhone that stretches for about 34 miles between Burgundy and Lyon also produces richer and more complex wines.

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

There are 12 geographic areas (appellations) in Beaujolais, and three classifications (AOCs). Wines from Beaujolais AOC are basic wines mainly made in the south. Beaujolais Villages AOC are better wines produced by 38 villages in the middle and north. The highest classification is Beaujolais Cru, a distinction held by 10 villages mainly in the north, such as Fleurie, Brouilly, and Chiroubles.

There are about 2,000 wineries in Beaujolais, mostly family-owned. The wines are typically a great value cost-wise. The region specializes in the Gamay grape, but you’ll also find some Chardonnay, used to make white Beaujolais, and a smattering of other varietals.

We’ve been to wine regions in both Burgundy and the Rhone in past trips but this was our first visit to Beaujolais. We enjoyed an excellent private tour with Yann, of Tasty Lyon. The website’s tour description does not do it justice. This was a wonderful day trip to the wineries of Beaujolais.

En Route: Oedoria

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

Our first stop was not at a winery but on a hillside behind an old church with a beautiful view, a bucolic setting for breakfast and a sampling of wine from Oedoria, a wine cooperative created in 2009 by the merger of three Beaujolais wineries. We enjoyed three tastings at breakfast:

Instant Bon’oeur Beaujolais Blanc 😊++

Instant Bon’oeur Beaujolais Rosé 😊++

Chateau Gaillard, a Red from the Morgon Cru region 😊😊+

Domaine de Fond-Vieille

Our first winery visit was to Domaine de Fond-Vieille, a fourth-generation family winery near the medieval village of Oingt. Only 10 hectares, some of its vines are more than 100 years old.  

After an extensive tour of the vineyard and cellar, we were escorted to the tiny, rustic tasting room. With accompanying cheese and charcuterie, we sampled:

·         Beaujolais Blanc Pierres Dorees 😊😊 

·         Pink Tower Gamay, a Rosé 😊😊

·         Vieilles Vignes (old vines), a classic red Beaujolais 😊😊

·         Cuvee Alexandre, produced only in exceptional years; a more complex red 😊😊

·         La Grumandise de Fond-Vieille, a late harvest dessert wine blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc 😊+

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

 After visiting the winery, we had the opportunity to explore the village of Oingt, one of the prettiest villages in France.

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

We then headed north for frog legs lunch al fresco at Brasseries du Theatre in Villefranche-sur-Saone, known as the capital of the Beaujolais region.

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

Le Domaine de la Madone

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

The second winery we visited was Le Domaine de la Madone, located in Fleurie in the North. The winery has been in the Depres family for six generations. (“De pres” is also a pun; it means “from the fields”).

A slightly larger winery but still small with only 18 hectares, it also has a small restaurant open part of the year and two guest houses, as well as a chapel, the inspiration for the winery’s logo.

After a tour of the cellar, we sat down to an extensive, leisurely private tasting led by the winemaker’s mother. We sampled:

·         Rosé de Gamay 😊😊

·         Viognier – Domaine de la Madone, unique to Fleurie 😊😊

·         Fleurie – Madone, a classic red Beaujolais 😊😊

·         Fleurie – Vieilles Vignes Madone, (80 year old vines) with more structure 😊😊

·         Fleurie – Grille Midi, more powerful 😊😊

·         Fleurie – Dame de la Petoche, one of the few Beaujolais wines aged a year in oak 😊😊

·         Fleurie – 1889, aged two years in oak 😊😊+

Christophe Savoye

Wonderful Day Trip to the Wineries of Beaujolais

The third winery we visited was Christophe Savoye, in nearby Chiroubles, the highest elevation cru in Beaujolais. Established in 1825 and in the same family for six generations, it’s only 16 hectares. The estate also has a couple of accommodations, including a campervan, and some more avant-garde wine tourism experiences, such as an oenology course with the winemaker and a free family-friendly QR code hunt.

Of the three wineries we visited, this was the only one where English was spoken.

We enjoyed a generous tasting in the tasting room served by Noemie, the daughter of the winemaker (she’s the seventh generation). We sampled:

·         Beaujolais Blanc 😊++

·         Chiroubles Cuvee Loic, named after Noemie’s brother 😊😊

·         Morgan Cuvee Noemie, named after her 😊😊

·         Chiroubles Cuvee Prestige, Vielles Vignes, 80 year old vines 😊😊

·         Chiroubles Cuvee Cour de Femme, 100 year old vines 😊😊

We hope this information on our wonderful day trip to the wineries of Beaujolais helps you plan your itinerary to the region. If you have additional recommendations, please share. We’re at Levons nos verres! (Let’s raise our glasses!)


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