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Beaujolais: Fleurie premier cru plan backed by winemakers

Winemakers in Fleurie have taken another step towards premier cru status for certain top vineyard areas after backing a final proposal to be sent to France's appellation body. 

More than 85% of winegrowers in the Fleurie appellation voted in favour of the premier cru plan at a meeting on 28 March, attended by more than 70 producers representing around 60% of the appellation’s surface area, said local officials.

An application to create Fleurie premier cru sites will now go to national appellation body INAO (Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité), although approval could take several years.

Fleurie’s plan is one strand of a wider process that has involved around a decade of soil analysis across the region and could lead to other areas of Beaujolais seeking premier cru status in the coming years, as previously reported by Decanter.

Seven Fleurie lieux-dits out of more than 40 candidates will be proposed for premier cru status:

  • Les Moriers
  • Poncié
  • Les Garants
  • La Madone
  • La Roilette
  • Grille Midi
  • La Chapelle des Bois

These seven localities cover around 27% of the appellation, and their selection follows several years of tastings and soil investigations, as well analysis of prices and historical usage of lieu-dit names, among other factors, officials said.

‘It’s exciting for the region,’ said winemaker Grégoire Hoppenot, secretary of the Fleurie appellation.

Fleurie premier cru wines would top a Burgundy-style pyramid, above other Fleurie wines and with regional Beaujolais at the base.

It’s hoped that will make the area easier for wine drinkers to understand, said Hoppenot. At present, ‘it’s a bit difficult to understand why a lieu-dit is better than a Fleurie, [and] which lieux-dits are better, these type of things’.

Prices may rise on certain wines, yet producers argue this is necessary to some extent.

While Beaujolais wines can offer great value-for-money, Hoppenot said ‘production costs here in Beaujolais are really high’, with much work done by hand. ‘This type of classification could help,’ he added.

Fleurie producers without vineyards in the proposed premier cru areas have also found a new sense of pride in their terroir following extensive soil analysis, Hoppenot added.

He said he was hopeful INAO approval could be achieved in a timeframe of ‘between eight and 10 years’. He cited recent premier cru approvals in Pouilly-Fuissé, and added that the Fleurie team has been in touch with producers there.

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