The *Third* Thursday in November: A Reflection on Beaujolais Nouveau
At 12:01 AM, French time yesterday, Beaujolais Nouveau wines from this year’s vintage are released, just weeks after fermentation is complete. Obviously, there’s a huge party. The most well known event started Wednesday evening and will continue through Sunday in the town of Beaujeu.
Admittedly, this post was a bit of an afterthought. I blame it being so close to Thanksgiving. If we had our act together, we’d have jumped on the bandwagon and had it out yesterday like everyone else. But the celebration is still going in France, and about 120 other recognized events around the world take part in this celebration, so we think it’s worth at least a mini piece!
Beaujolais Nouveau, made in the Beaujolais region of France from the Gamay grape. It is a light and fruity wine made in the method of Carbonic Maceration and is released each year, the same year of the vintage, on the third Thursday of November.
*Rather than immediately crushing the grapes to extract tannin and color, fermentation in the Carbonic Maceration method requires the whole clusters to be placed in a tank filled with CO2. Fermentation begins inside the whole berries, converting some of the sugars to alcohol, and also producing some fruity aromas. Eventually the weight of the fruit on top will crush the actively fermenting berries and clusters underneath, which then burst, releasing juices, and the carbonic maceration that has started in the tank is now part Carbonic and part traditional fermentation.
Beaujolais is just north of Lyon and actually overlaps both Burgundy and the Rhone. It’s around 35 miles long and only seven to nine miles wide with 12 appellations
It’s history, however, is only about one hundred years old and was made famous by a very well known wine merchant and producer in the region, Georges Duboeuf, is rumored to be the marketing brains behind the success and popularity of Beaujolais Nouveau. Afterall, the wine ferments quickly, does not require aging in barriques and can be sold relatively young for a decent price, which is not bad for the growers’ post-harvest cash flow!
It had been suggested that a race into Paris bringing the brand new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau would be a great idea to attract the attention of the media. The annual race grew into not only a national French event in the 1970s, but became contagious and expanded into other European countries in the next decade, and finally to North America and Asia in the 90s, where parties and tastings are held all weekend long. Back in Beaujeu, this 5-day all nighter festival, Les Sarmentelles, includes music, dancing eating, and, of course, tasting!
Nothing like a bottle of Beaujolais to ease the weekend-before-T-Day nerves!
In our last post, we did mention the Fleurie, but both Beaujolais and Beau-Nouveau can absolutely accompany T-Day dinner, and fall cuisine in general. Included in the flavor profile are bright fruits like strawberry and raspberry, banana, but also a fun bubblegum-like characteristic which is a dead giveaway of the Nouveau. Drink it just a bit chilled, and because of its bright acidity and low tannins, it can go with huge variety of foods, including lighter fared meats, appetizers, savory herbed foods, as well as pasta, fresh veggies, you get the point!