Beaujolais Est Arrivee!

1 12 2010

It’s time for Beaujolais!  When I began to study wine back in the early nineties I was always intrigued by the stories of the release of the new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November. I remember a lot of hubbub regarding the dropping of a large format bottle on the top of the World Trade Center by helicopter and a handoff from Robin Leach to Kevin Zraly. Who knew I’d work there one day.

This year I was honored to meet the famed Georges Duboeuf himself and his grandson Adrien Lacombe at a dinner at La Folie, actually to discuss the 2009 vintage, not the Nouveau. But Duboeuf is one of the largest producers of Nouveau, and a few weeks ago I was really happy to receive the 2010 Georges Duboeuf Nouveau a full week before the official release date. It was vibrant magenta with very intense grapey nose very bright fresh and clean with hints of berries. Medium to medium plus acidity pleasantly low in alcohol, with flavors of red cherry, berry, juicy very nice balance, not too bitter, clean plum flavors, slight chalky note, very fresh and drinkable.  All that a great nouveau should be. As much as I love Nouveau unfortunately all the publicity stunts surrounding it have detracted from the reputation of the region as a whole and a backlash against Beaujolais has ensued, mostly due to misunderstanding.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a perfectly simple and delicious beverage not meant for lengthy pondering while Beaujolais can be so much more.  Nouveau undergoes a special production process called carbonic maceration that produces a drinkable fruity wine very quickly with a bit less tannin than the traditional method so it doesn’t need extensive aging and can be enjoyed just mere months after the harvest. When you get a Nouveau this year you’ll see it will be the only 2010 wine on the shelves perhaps with the exception of some similar styled southern hemisphere wines. It’s sad that Nouveau is so maligned because it is a style of wine that I like, especially when I want to just drink a simple glass of wine and not pontificate.

Recently the Beaujolais region held a somewhat daring Asian inspired lunch featuring some more serious Beaujolais at RN74 for their new campaign “Light by Beaujolais”. By “light” they do not mean simple but transparent and lively. The wines made from the Gamay grape have a tendency to have light body, low to medium tannins and vibrant juicy acidity making them very food friendly. The region itself is just south of Burgundy but a major difference is a change in the soil, more granite and less limestone which resulted in a decree forbidding Pinot Noir from being planted there. So really Beaujolais shouldn’t be seen as an inferior wine. In fact there are ten Beaujolais Crus or sub-regions known for having the optimal growing conditions and producing some of their best wines. So I would suggest out of tradition you find yourself a juicy bottle or two of Nouveau to drink as your guests arrive (cooking wine!) for holiday meals and then try some “regular” Beaujolais or Beaujolais Villages or Beaujolais Cru with the actual meal. Just be sure not to let the Nouveau languish around your house too long. Drink it soon while it’s freshest!

Some great non-Nouveau Beaujolais
Domaine Paul Etienne Beaujolais-Villages 2009 (The Wine Trading Company 415 731-6222)
Chateau de Raousset Douby Morgon 2009 (The Wine House 415 355-9463)
Domaine de Colette Beaujolais-Villages 2009 (Blackwell’s Wines & Spirits 415 386-9463)

Trivia Fact
The ten Beaujolais Cru are:
Cote de Brouilly

Sometimes you may see just one if these names on the label.

Map of Beaujolais Vineyards



3 responses

21 04 2011
Bill and Carol Reith

Welcome back to ACK!

21 04 2011

So great to hear from you both! I have been meaning to reach out to you. I will be out there only part time, but I cannot wait to see you both. Hope you are well!


15 12 2012

Nice post… Informative and very useful to me personally just now, 😉 thnx

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