John Wilson: It’s spring – time for a brilliant glass of Beaujolais

10 crus of Beaujolais offer fantastic value and are all instantly drinkable

As I write, I have been self-isolating for a week, the result of an ill-timed trip to Madrid to judge a wine competition. As we are unable to socialise, the evening meal takes on a new importance, even if the range of available ingredients has been curtailed. It is a good way to clear the freezer of all of those solid, unlabelled lumps of something left over from the distant past. We are enjoying a glass of wine with our dinner each evening, which helps brighten up the mood and clear the cellar too.

With restaurants and wine bars closed, many small wine importers are suffering with few orders coming in and, in many cases, they are unable to collect money. Right now your local wine shop needs you more than ever. Many have been offering a collection/delivery service, so please give them your support, if you can. And of course, mail-order companies are still operating too. There is still no excuse to drink bad wine.

Covid-19 aside, we have now entered spring, my favourite time of the year. I start eating lighter food, a lot more salads, and look forward to the arrival of fresh peas, asparagus and new potatoes.

My choice of wine changes a little too. While I love red Burgundy (and white too), so many Spanish wines, Riesling and others, I suspect I get more pleasure from the wines of Beaujolais than any other region. The less expensive wines are unpretentious, light and fruity, perfect by themselves or with a variety of foods. To me they have a freshness and lightness that seems to match the milder weather. If the sun is shining, you could even serve them cool or lightly chilled.


Gamay grape

The 10 crus of Beaujolais are a step-up in quality and often fantastic value for money. While they can age wonderfully, all are instantly drinkable once bottled. Each cru or village offers a different style, ranging from the light elegance of Fleurie, Brouilly and Chiroubles to the more substantial wines of Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. All are made solely from the Gamay grape.

Climate change is having an impact on Beaujolais, positive and negative. As temperatures increase marginally, the wines are riper with fewer green, herbaceous flavours. But alcohol levels are also increasing, in some years to previously unheard-of levels of 15 per cent or more. I tend to steer clear of the bigger wines, but there are exceptions, such as the Morgon below.

If you are serving a range of different foods such as vegetables, salads, meat and fish, the best all-purpose wine of all has to be Beaujolais – from inexpensive supermarket wines to preferably something a little better. At €15-€20 you should get a lovely fruit-filled bottle. Pay a little more and you will get a serious wine.

Fleurie 2018, Château de Fleurie

13.5%, € 15.95 (until April 19th)

This has all the hallmark floral aromas of Fleurie, and a rich, silky palate of ripe dark fruits that seduce with every sip. Try it with salmon or tuna, or quiche and salad.

Stockists: O'Briens,

Beaujolais Villages 2018, Domaine des Nugues

12.5% (€20)

One of my favourite Beaujolais, fresh and lively with wonderful pure dark cherry fruits. With cold meats, all sorts of charcuterie and good crusty bread.

Stockists: Sheridan's Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co. Meath, Galway,;; 64wine, Glasthule,

Domaine Thillardon, Chénas ‘Coup-Double’ 2018

13% (€32.95)

Wonderful floral, elegant Beaujolais with fresh delicate red cherry and raspberry fruits accompanied by just enough grip. Plain roast organic chicken, pork chops in a creamy sauce or dishes featuring roast butternut squash.

Stockists: Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork,; Le Caveau, Kilkenny,

Morgon ‘Les Charmes’ 2018, Domaine de Lathevalle

14% (€20)

Delicious medium-bodied Beaujolais with a good tannic structure behind the concentrated savoury dark fruits; cassis with hints of spice and liquorice. Try it with confit duck or beef bourguignon.

Stockists: Whelehan's Wines, Loughlinstown,