Today is the third Thursday in November, which means it’s OK to drink Beaujolais Nouveau under French regulations. If you are an expert wine drinker this also means it’s time to make snotty comments about how this is a bubble-gum wine and how much you prefer the proper, aged Beaujolais crus wines. (Or, to talk about a handful of obscure producers who are making wine that meets your sophisticated standards.)
Luckily, we here at Vinecdote are nothing if not unabashed amateurs, so no such issues for us. Fruity, sweet, low-alcohol and meant to be served good and chilled? We’ll take it.
Beaujolais Nouveau comes, not too surprisingly, from the Beaujolais region of France and is made from the gamay grape, specifically Gamay noir Jus Blanc. They’re not kidding about the “nouveau” part; this is from the latest harvest and the grapes are left to macerate for just a few days, meaning the tannins, the bitter compounds in grape skins that give wine its structure, aren’t extracted. This is not a wine to put in the cellar; it’s recommended you consume it before May.
How’d Beaujolais get to be so big? Marketing, of course. Georges Duboeuf, the largest negociant in the region, has promoted the wine avidly. It comes in bottles with whimsically decorated labels; there’s usually a race to see who gets their wine out first and the result has been millions and millions of bottles sold. So, I wouldn’t recommend investing a lot of money or even expectations here. But isn’t it a kick to drink something simple and seasonal?
Being in a particularly Berkeley frame of mind this afternoon I bicycled down to my local purveyor of wines and spirits, aka the nearest grocery store, and picked up a bottle of George D. There doesn’t seem to have been the same level of anticipation this year; only a few cases were on display and the manager told me the deliveries had been later than usual. Is it the economy? The criticism? I don’t know.
I will say that the wine is light, fruity, and way, way better cold than warm. (Yes, in fact I did put an ice cube in it.) It’s also a blast to drink. I like thinking that this is made from grapes that were still hanging in French fields just a few months ago. Taking the picture, on the other hand, was far less straightforward. Do you know how difficult it is to shoot shiny things? It took me about 10 shots just to get one that didn’t have my head reflected in the bottle. Jolly frustrating.
Luckily, I had a little mood restorer close to hand.