Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hendrik Thoma Presented the Wines of the Beaujolais at Weinsinn in Frankfurt am Main, Germany/France

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Hendrik Thoma at the Beaujolais Tasting in Frankfurt, Germany

For more on Hendrik Thoma see:

Wein am Limit: The “German Gary Vaynerchuck” Hendrik Thoma Moves on, Germany

A Master Sommelier became a Web 2.0 Digital Sommelier- An interview with Germany's Hendrik Thoma (Part 1)

A Master Sommelier became a Web 2.0 Digital Sommelier- An interview with Germany's Hendrik Thoma (Part 2) 

German Master Sommelier Hendrik Thoma (and SOPEXA) invited for a tour d’ horizont of the wines of the Beaujolais coupled with a 3 course lunch at the trendy Frankfurt am Main wine restaurant/bistro Weinsinn while I was in Germany a few weeks ago. This posting focuses on the wine side of the luncheon; a second posting on the food side of the luncheon will follow.


 “Beaujolais today is what Rheinhessen was 20 years ago” said Peter Weritz, one of the participants, “a region with a bad reputation as a result of the Beaujolais Nouveau, but with quite a number of innovative and dynamic winemakers who are in the process of propelling the region to the forefront of winemaking”. Billy Wagner, Sommelier of the trendy wine bar Rutz in Berlin said: “Well, the Beaujolais has already gine quite a distance, as there are already a number of young wine makers producing wines of the highest level already today”.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Weinsinn Co-owner Matthias Scheiber at Weinsinn in Frankfurt am Main

Coming back to the basics: Beaujolais is a French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape (accounting for nearly 98% of all plantings). Administratively, Beaujolais is part of the Bourgogne, but the winemakers up north prefer to present their wine region excluding Beaujolais.

In the 1980s, Beaujolais hit a peak of popularity in the world's wine market with its Beaujolais nouveau wine. An eventual backlash occurred in the late 1990s, when the whole of Beaujolais wine had developed a negative reputation among consumers who associated Gamay based wines with simple light bodied wines that characterized Beaujolais Nouveau. In response, there has been renewed emphasis on the production of more complex wines that are aged longer in oak barrels prior to release.

The Beaujolais Area

Beaujolais is a large wine producing region, totaling over 20,000 hectares. The soils of Beaujolais divide the region into a northern and southern half, with the town of Villefranche serving as a near dividing point. The northern half of Beaujolais, where most of the Cru Beaujolais communes are located, includes rolling hills of schist and granite based soils with some limestone. The southern half of the region, also known as the Bas Beaujolais, has more flatter terrain with richer, sandstone and clay based soils with some limestone patches.

Pictures: Hendrik Thoma


There are twelve main appellations of Beaujolais wines covering the production of more than 96 villages in the Beaujolais region. They were originally established in 1936, with additional crus being promoted in 1938 and 1946, plus Régnié in 1988.

Pictures: Hendrik Thoma

About half of all Beaujolais wine is sold under the basic Beaujolais AOC designation. The majority of this wine is produced in the southern Bas Beaujolais region located around the town of Belleville. The only difference between basic Beaujolais and Beaujolais Supérieur is this slight increase in alcohol.

Beaujolais-Villages AOC, the intermediate category in terms of classification, covers 39 communes/villages in the Haut Beaujolais, the northern part of the region accounting for a quarter of production.

Several of the communes in the Beaujolais-Villages AOC also qualify to produce their wines under the Mâconnais and Saint-Véran AOCs. The Beaujolais producers that produce a red wine under the Beaujolais-Villages appellation will often produce their white wine under the more internationally recognized names of Mâcon-Villages or Saint-Véran.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Oliver Donnecker, Restaurant Heimat in Frankfurt am Main and "Weinpunk" Marco Giovanni Zanetti

Cru Beaujolais, the highest category of classification in Beaujolais, account for the production within ten villages/areas in the foothills of the Beaujolais mountains. Unlike Burgundy and Alsace, the phrase cru in Beaujolais refers to an entire wine producing area rather than an individual vineyard.

Pictures: In the Vineyards of  Juliénas

From north to south the Beaujolais crus are - Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.

Semi-carbonic Maceration

Beaujolais is made by the winemaking technique of semi-carbonic maceration. Whole bunches of grapes are put directly into covered fermentation tanks. The weight of the grapes on top crushes the grapes underneath, which begin to ferment with ambient yeasts. This releases carbon dioxide gas, which remains trapped in the tank and sets off a different, intracellular fermentation in the grapes on top. After a week or so, the grapes are removed from the tank and the fermentation is completed in the conventional way, typically including a malolactic fermentation to soften the wine. Historically, chaptalization has been widespread in the Beaujolais.

Pictures: Henrik Thoma with Wine and Restaurant Consultant Harry H. Hochheimer and Wine Journalist Harry George

Wine Industry

The Beaujolais wine industry is dominated by the more than 30 négociants who produce nearly 90% of the wine sold outside the Beaujolais region. There are more than 4000 vineyard owners in Beaujolais and most of the wine that is not sold to the négociants is bottled by the nearly 20 village co-operatives. 

The Wines that Hendrik Poured

Beaujolais Villages Rosé 2011

Domaine Laurent Gauthier, Rose Vintage, 69430 Quincie en Beaujolais,

Beaujolais Blanc 2010

Domaine des Terres Dorées, Beaujolais Blanc, 69380 Charnay,

Brouilly 2010

Pierreux Domaine du Vissoux, Brouilly Pierreux, 69620 Saint Vérand,

Brouilly - The largest Cru in Beaujolais, situated around Mont Brouilly and contains within its boundaries the sub-district of Côte de Brouilly.

Régnié 2009

Henry Fessy, Régnié, 69620 Saint Jean d'Ardières,

Régnié - The most recently recognized Cru, graduating from a Beaujolais-Villages area to Cru Beaujolais in 1988. One of the more fuller bodied crus in this category.

Saint-Amour 2010

Maison Trenel Fils, Saint-Armour, 71850 Charnay Les Macon,

Saint-Amour - Local lore suggest that this region was named after a Roman soldier (St. Amateur) who converted to Christianity after escaping death and established a mission near the area.

Chiroubles 2010

Fabien Collonge, L’Aurore des Côtes, 69430 Quincié-en-Beaujolais,

Chiroubles - This cru has vineyards at some of the highest altitudes among the Cru Beaujolais.

Cote de Brouilly 2010

Château Thivin, Clos Bertrand, 69460 Odenas,

Côte de Brouilly - Located on the higher slopes of the extinct volcano Mont Brouilly within the Brouilly Cru Beaujolais.

Fleurie 2010

Domaine de la Madone, Grille Midi, 69820 Fleurie,

Fleurie - One of the most widely exported Cru Beaujolais into the United States.

Julienas 2010

Vins Georges Duboeuf, Château des Capitans, 71570 Romanèche Thorins,

Juliénas - This cru is based around the village named after Julius Caesar.

Morgon 2010

Jean-Marc Burgaud, Côte du Py, 69910 Villié Morgon,

Morgon - Produces earthy wines that can take on a Burgundian character of silky texture after five years aging.

Moulin à Vent 2010

Sarl Potel / Aviron, Moulin à Vent, 69220 Lancie,

Moulin-à-Vent - Wines are very similar to the nearby Chénas Cru Beaujolais. This region produces some of the longest lasting examples of Beaujolais wine, with some wines lasting up to ten years.

Chenas 2009

Château des Jacques, Chenas, 71570 Romanèche-Thorins, châ     

Chénas - Once contained many of the vineyards that are now sold under the Moulin-à-Vent designation. It is now the smallest Cru Beaujolais with wines that are noted for their aroma of wild roses

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wein am Limit: The “German Gary Vaynerchuck” Hendrik Thoma Moves on, Germany

A Master Sommelier became a Web 2.0 Digital Sommelier- An interview with Germany's Hendrik Thoma (Part 1)

A Master Sommelier became a Web 2.0 Digital Sommelier- An interview with Germany's Hendrik Thoma (Part 2) 

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