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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
21 Nov 2012

May I recommend one word to anyone looking at the last minute for wine to serve at tomorrow's well-laden Thanksgiving table (please forgive thoroughly unappetising image)? Beaujolais.

I don't mean Beaujolais Nouveau or one of the more vapid examples from the bigger producers but hand-made, non-rushed, ridiculously underpriced wines from smaller domaines in the Beaujolais region north west of Lyons.

The great thing about Beaujolais - fruity, zesty reds made from the Gamay grape - is that it's a red wine that can often act more like a white. With its relatively high acidity, it's super-refreshing and likes to be served reasonably cool. And it's very flexible in terms of food matching. It would be great with turkey but should not be knocked off its perch - the way that some grander reds would be - by the wide range of dishes, some of them decidedly sweet, that tend to accompany the bird.

The lightest wines tend to be labelled Beaujolais, while Beaujolais-Villages is generally a little fuller. Densest and generally most complex are the wines from one of the Beaujolais crus on the hills: Chiroubles, St-Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent in approximately ascending order of body. Winemakers here are on fire, making wine better and more gently and authentically than they have for years. None of those accelerated fermentations and banana aromas - just pure Gamay fruit, grown on granite in many cases.

Vintages 2011, 2010 and 2009 have all been superb in their own different ways and all should be drinking well now. I see we have reviews of more than 500 Beaujolais in our fully searchable collection of nearly 75,000 tasting notes. Members of Purple Pages can take detailed advice on the most recent vintages from these articles:

Lovely Beaujolais, 2011 and back
More 2011 Beaujolais
What's so good about Beaujolais 2010
Beaujolais 2010 - another great success
2009 - the year of Beaujolais
Beaujolais 2009 - buy, buy!
More Beaujolais 2009
Beaujolais 2009 - a third helping

And anyone can access this report on the 2012 Beaujolais vintage from producers Loron.