Beaujolais
: History

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The region is on the ancient Roman trade route up the Rhône and Saône valleys. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that there are records of Roman vineyards in the region, notably on Mont Brouilly (Brulliacus), just the sort of hillside vineyard site favoured by the Romans, and Morgon. Benedictine monks developed vineyards here as early as the 7th century and for much of the medieval period Beaujolais, in wine terms at least, was simply the southern neighbour of the great duchy of Burgundy.

Beaujolais is named after Beaujeu, the town in its western hills founded in the 10th century, and was ruled by the Dukes of Beaujeu before being ceded to the Bourbonnais for a time. The region achieved real viticultural identity when Philip the Bold issued his famous edict against the growing of Gamay in Burgundy proper. He was right in that Gamay performs so much better on the granite hillsides of Beaujolais than on the limestone escarpment of the côte d’or.