Chirouze, 35, is the winemaker for Château des Jacques, which has been owned by the Burgundian giant Louis Jadot since 1996. Château des Jacques harvests its fruit ripe and ages its wines in oak to get that crowd-pleasing Burgundy character. The catch is that the winery is in Beaujolais, and the grapes are Gamay. But if you tasted the wines blind, you might not realize it.
“I like to show that Gamay can be a really full-bodied wine,” Chirouze told Wine-Searcher. “This depends on your winegrowing and winemaking philosophy. Beaujolais is much more complex than what we used to think.”
Beaujolais is actually part of Burgundy (use this trivia question to stump wine snobs), but it has gone in a different direction from what we consider Burgundy for a long time, especially on red wines. The big difference is the grape: Gamay is the main grape of Beaujolais, while Pinot Noir is king in the northern part of Burgundy.
Chirouze argues that the creation of Beaujolais Nouveau in the 1950s changed what people even in the region believe about Gamay. Most wines, including most Burgundies, are made by crushing grapes and allowing the resulting juice to ferment. Beaujolais Nouveau is made by carbonic maceration, in which carbon dioxide is pumped into a container of uncrushed grapes, and the juice begins to ferment inside the grape itself. The idea is to create a simple, fruity wine that can be enjoyed right away.
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