Monday, June 26, 2017
   
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Beaujolais Nouveau

Buying Wine

Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape, in the southern part of Burgundy, where Pinot Noir reigns as King. Using Carbonic Maceration, a way to make light red wines without many tannins, the Beaujolais Nouveau is made to drink quickly (not known to age well). The ‘Nouveau’ phenomenon began in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Upon release every Fall, in pitchers filled from the growers’ barrels, Beaujolais Nouveau was received with enormous enthusiasm. Due to strong success, the government stepped into regulate sales.

In 1938, regulations and restrictions were put in place. In 1951, these regulations were revoked and the Beaujolais Nouveau was officially recognized. By this time, what was just a local tradition had gained so much popularity that the news of it reached Paris. The race was born. It wasn’t long thereafter that the word spilled out of France and around the world. In 1985, the release date was changed from November 15 to the third Thursday of November (French Law) tying it to a weekend and making the celebration complete. But wherever the new Beaujolais went, importers had to agree not to sell it before midnight on the third Thursday of November.

Due to the way it is made (the must is pressed early after only three days), the phenolic compounds and astringent tannins normally found in red wines aren’t there, leaving an easy to drink, fruity wine. This, coupled with the fact that it tastes best when chilled, makes for a festive wine to be gulped rather than sipped, enjoyed in high spirits rather than critiqued. As a side note, it makes a great transitional wine for anyone wanting to move from white to red wines.

On a more technical note, the wine is strictly speaking, more properly termed Beaujolais Primeur. By French and European rules, a wine released during the period between its harvest and a date in the following spring, is termed primeur. A wine released during the period between its own and the following years harvest, is termed nouveau.

Mostly due to the efforts of the Dubœuf negociant in the region… in the last 45 years, sales have risen from around a million bottles to more than 70 million bottles.

Finally, the race from grape to glass may be silly, but half the fun is knowing that on the same night, in homes, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and bistros around the world, the same celebration is taking place. It hasn’t the pedigree to be a classic wine, but it is always good. (Into Wine)

On a side note, and in order to see what Beaujolais is capable of (and Gamay for that matter), there are 10 villages in Beaujolais that produce the best and most expensive wines. Three that might surprise the inexperienced that consider Beaujolais strictly ‘light and boring’ are Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon, and Fleurie. These granite-laden hills have a history of making wines with structure, body, and finesse. A brilliant secret and contrast to the much more known and lighter Beaujolais appellation.

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