Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beaujolais Nouveau

This weekend I tried Beaujolais Nouveau for the first time. Ever since learning about it I have wanted to try it, but it’s only available for a short time in the year, as it is released the third week of November and should be drunk immediately (within 3mths).

Traditionally, BN was drunk by the local vineyards as a celebration of the end of harvest. The rules of the region (AOC Beaujolais) meant that historically Beaujolais were only allowed to sell their wine after 15 December of the harvest year. Then in 1951 they relaxed those rules, so the wine released before this date is called Nouveau. Georges Du Boeuf (whose Fleurie I gave tasting notes on a few months ago), and some other producers saw the potential in marketing BN. By getting these bottles out quickly they could sell table wine at a premium, and by selling it early helped with their cash-flow. It was heavily promoted in the 1970s, I’m thinking a Parisian version of Abigail’s Party, and although the celebration of the release has died down a little, the production and marketing continues with fun, novelty and celebration. It is quite popular in the US where it is promoted as a Thanksgiving wine.

The wine is very young and therefore fresh, bright and a little “un-ready”, one wine critic compared it to eating cookie-dough. I tried one from M&S (who say their sales of BN are increasing every year). I found that the texture of the wine dried out my tongue, even though it has no tannins, having the same effect as drinking black tea. It tastes of rosehip tea, Parma Violets and pear drops. It’s very thin and a little sharp, and sits at the top of your mouth. It’s bright pink-purple and you can pretty much see through it.

If you fancy trying it, which I would recommend, even if only once, look for it at the end of November, and watch for the brightly coloured labels, it’s the opportunity for the reserved French winemakers to go a little “fiesta”! 

Beaujolais: a region in France that is AOC and produces light, fruity red wines using the Gamay grape
AOC: Appelation d'origine controlee, which means the wine has strict rules and regulations that the winemakers must abide by
Fleurie: One of the AOC villages in the Beaujolais region

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