Beaujolais is a French AOP wine typically made of the Gamay Noir grape varietal, which has a thin red skin and subtle tannins. Gamay Noir has been found to be a cross of Pinot Noir and the ancient white grape varietal known as Gouais Blanc.
In contrast to the Pinot Noir grape varietal, Gamay tends to ripen two weeks earlier and is less difficult to grow and ripen. It also produces a vibrant, fruitier style wine, and with much larger crop volumes.
The region really began to develop an identity distinct from its northern neighbour of Burgundy, after the Duke of Burgundy - made his famous decree in July 1395, outlawing the Gamay grape and forbidding its cultivation in the wine region of Burgundy and surrounding area.

 

The official decree, had the effect of forcing Gamay vine plantings south, out of the main wine region of Burgundy and into the granite based soils of Beaujolais where the grape has thrived. So Burgundy focused on Pinot Noir and Beaujolais focused on Gamay. Although the announcement was not at all popular with the grape-growers of the day, it definitely proved to be a good thing for each of the wine regions.
Located south of the Burgundy region, between Mâcon and Lyon, Beaujolais produces an average of 13 million cases annually. Then once a year, when the world falls in love with Beaujolais Nouveau, nearly half of this harvest is pressed, fermented, racked, fined, filtered and sold within weeks. This quick cash flow injection is the envy of winemakers everywhere.

Beaujolais has a diverse geography, but it is unified by the Gamay grape. 98% of the area is planted with Gamay. with the other 2% is basically planted with Chardonnay, Aligote and Pinot Noir. Beaujolais is the young, refreshing and fruity wine that is so popular in the French cafés. The fruit driven, exuberant, intensely aromatic wines produced, owes a lot not only to the Gamay grape, but to the carbonic vinification used.
Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages pair well with light cuisine, like tapas and salads. The lighter 'Cru Beaujolais' pair well with poultry and the heavier 'Crus' pairing better with red meats and hearty, seasoned dishes.