There’s a theory that counting sheep may help you fall asleep – the idea being, I assume, that the boredom of the whole process gradually lulls you. My wife, Hilary, recently suggested an alternative that might appeal to wine lovers: naming the Crus of Beaujolais! These are the 10 best villages that are allowed to use their own names on the wine label, rather than the generic ‘Beaujolais’. Their status ranks above both ordinary Beaujolais (which includes Beaujolais Nouveau) and Beaujolais-Villages, which, confusingly, relates to wine produced in a group of villages outside the top 10 rather than in these particular villages.
Despite all red Beaujolais being made from the same grape variety, Gamay, the landscape of the region is quite diverse so, as a result, the wines from each of the named villages have their own identity.
Starting in the south, Brouilly is the largest of the Crus and its land entirely surrounds the extinct volcano, Mont Brouilly on whose slopes are found another Cru, Côte de Brouilly which produces more concentrated wines. Régnié, the newest of the Crus to be promoted, has mainly sandy soils leading to soft, early-drinking wines.
To the east, Morgon is very different: many wines from here will age quite well and develop almost Burgundy-like flavours and aromas. Chiroubles has the highest vineyards in the region and produces light, delicate wines while neighbouring Fleurie, probably the best known of the Crus, lives up to its name with floral, charming wines.
Moulin-a-Vent is another village producing more robust, longer-lived styles, while the vineyard area of Chénas, already the smallest of the Crus, is gradually shrinking and I wonder how long it will retain its independence. Juliénas produces stylish wines of real character and then there’s the most northerly Cru of all, Saint-Amour: light wines which, because of their name, have a particular appeal on romantic occasions!
All can be delicious and are rarely expensive but would trying to remember the names help you fall asleep? Or would they, perhaps, encourage you to wake your partner to share a bottle?