Today’s wine professionals recognize that Beaujolais is one of the world’s most important wine regions, one that has garnered particular attention in recent years for its quality, range, and character. That recognition and fascination with Beaujolais has a snowball effect, spurring wine professionals to crave more information about the intricacies of the region and its wines.
In order to continue the education and conversation around Beaujolais wines, the region hosted a series of pre-conference master classes on August 14th, 2018, at the 42nd annual Society of Wine Educators (SWE) Conference in New York’s Finger Lakes region, which attracts educators, students, and wine enthusiasts from across the U.S. Through three seminars hosted by two prominent wine experts, these top professionals received a more intricate look into Beaujolais, which will only continue the discussion surrounding this forward-thinking wine region.
Beaujolais tapped two key speakers to lead the SWE pre-conference master class series: Katie Norris, co-founder and winemaker of Division Winemaking Company and Southeast Wine Collective in Portland, Oregon, and Philippe Marchal, Massanois Imports’ French, German, and Austrian brand manager. While Norris now crafts wines in Oregon, she trained in both Beaujolais and the Loire Valley before founding her urban wineries. Norris is a huge champion of Gamay, launching the annual “I Love Gamay” festival. Marchal worked as a sommelier at top restaurants in the United Kingdom, Cannes, Nice, and New York, including the lauded Restaurant Daniel, before moving to Beaujolais and working with local winegrowers through the association Terroirs et Talents.
Each of the three seminars had a targeted focus. The first, “An Exploration of the Crus of Beaujolais,” took 36 attendees on a trip through the 10 Crus of Beaujolais, which have jumped to rock star status among sommeliers in recent years. Not only did a guided tasting give attendees a sensory experience of all 10 Crus, plus Beaujolais AOC and Beaujolais Villages AOC, but the seminar detailed the intricacies of the diverse soils found in each of these regions.
“The Art of Winemaking in Beaujolais” took 33 SWE conference attendees into the vineyard and cellar itself, alongside a demonstrative tasting of wines vinified using different winemaking techniques. Professionals learned about the different techniques used in Beaujolais vinification, from whole bunch vinification to full de-stemming, and received an overview of natural and organic practices in the region as well.