What do you know of Beaujolais nouveau, a wine so divine they've named a day for it? This simple guide will bring you up to speed on one of the wine world's hottest trends.
Produced from the handpicked Gamay grapes of the Beaujolais (France) region, Beaujolais nouveau is the “baby” version of your favourite Beaujolais wines – young and “rude”, it spends much less time in the fermentation process, as it is bottled within 6-8 weeks of the harvest.
For some time now critics have dismissed Beaujolais nouveau as simple or immature, but it hasn't stopped many from considering these youthful bottles an early indicator of the quality of the year's harvest. And, in fact, Beaujolais nouveau is considered the most popular of the vin de primeur, wines that are allowed by the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) to be sold the same year they are bottled.
While it's hard to nail down exactly what you should be looking for in a given hat a Beaujolais (there are over 2000 vinters of this aromatic wine), they tend to be characterized by fruity notes like strawberry, fig, and pear.
It's produced through a winemaking process called carbonic maceration, or whole berry fermentation, a technique that preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, leaving the bitter tannins with the grape skins.
Beaujolais is also one of the few reds meant to be enjoyed slightly cool (around 55 degress Fahrenheit, if we're getting technical). It's also is meant to be enjoyed young – an average vintage by the following May after it has been released, although excellent vintages can last muchlonger, even into the next harvest season.
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A Rich History
Beaujolais always made a vin de l'année to celebrate the end of the harvest, but up until the 1970s it was pretty much only available for the locals to enjoy. It wasn't until the early 50s, when Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais (UIVB), who recognized the marketing potential and relaxed the release date from December 15 to November 15, that Beaujolais nouveau started to gain popularity outside of the Beaujolais region. The idea of a race to Paris carrying the first bottles of the new vintage was realized, attracting lots of media attention, and by the 1970s, it became a national event. Eventually the practice spread to neighbouring regions and European countries, followed not long after by North America and Asia.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day
In 1985, the powers that be changed the release date one last time to the third Thursday in November, (to take advantage of marketing) and Beaujolais Nouveau Day was born. Vinters used to race to get the first bottles to different markets worldwide, but now they tend to ship ahead of the Third Thursday to be prepared to release it to local markets at 12:01 am, local time.
Though sales of nouveau have decreased significantly over the years, millions of satisfied oenophiles can't be wrong. But don't take their word for it, try it for yourself! In late November of this year, the LCBO released 9 nouveau wines province wide.
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