Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day!
Today is the third Thursday of November, and since 1985 this day is also known as Beaujolais Nouveau Day. If you celebrate this day with a taste of the new Beaujolais, here is a Tchin Tchin toast that you find this year’s Beaujolais worth drinking!
The success of Beaujolais Nouveau Day is truly the result of clever marketing: producers bottle this vin ordinaire with fun colorful labels and consumers open their wallets and pop corks to celebrate the arrival of this young wine into their glasses. One could argue that this event has a spirit of pensées magique, (magical thinking) because this young wine, or vin primeur, is not ready to be appreciated as a typical vin mature (aged wine).
Beaujolais Nouveau is a teenager wine in an adult bottle.
What is the Beaujolais Nouveau?
Close your eyes and picture a landscape of grapevines, lined up facing the sun. It is September. We are in the Beaujolais region, located north of Lyon, in the Rhone area. These vines hold Gamay grapes, a thin skinned grape that is low in tannins. This type of grape you see on the vines is used to make Beaujolais Nouveau using the Gamay Beaujolais AOC French label appellation d’origine contrôlée.
When the Beaujolais AOC grapes are ready for wine production, the process begins with picking all the grapes by hand, as the law dictates. After picking, the grapes are left whole and are fermented by carbonic maceration. The thin skins of the Gamay grapes allow carbon dioxide gas to infuse inside the grape at in intracellular level to ferment and change the fruit sugar over to alcohol. This is done in closed large barrels in an anaerobic environment with no oxygen inside, with the carbon dioxide gas released inside the barrel under a controlled process. This whole grape fermentation quickens the change from a grape to ethanol alcohol wine and the time from harvest to bottling can be less than six weeks!
Un pensée magique magically (emotional) thoughts that sell the wine’s taste
Now if I told you that Beaujolais Nouveau wine tasted as bad (or good) as cookie dough like Karen McNeil, one wine critic proclaimed, would you listen to me?
I hope you say “Non!”
The beauty of tasting Beaujolais Nouveau is not in the value of the wine’s properties, it is in the joy, fun and emotion of sharing this new wine with others. Beaujolais Nouveau is a primeur wine, it is not mature enough (and it will never be because Beaujolais doesn’t age more in the bottle) for your mouth and nose to appreciate its basic virtues as you would an aged wine. The taste of wine has a sense of magical thinking, because the taste of wine is largely subjective.
The richness of Beaujolais Nouveau lies in the emotional aspects of racing to buy this bottle when it is allowed to hit the shelves, to admiring its colorful label, to pulling out a few big wine glasses and sharing this fermented grape during good times with good people.
That is magic. That is emotional. That is why it is just pure fun to drink Beaujolais Nouveau.
Beaujolais Nouveau for the Fun, Beaujolais Cru for the Thanksgiving Dinner
Beaujolais Nouveau is marketed by French producers, in particular, Georges DuBoeuf to drink with your Thanksgiving dinner. Surtout pas! (Above all, no!)
Enjoy a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau with the Thanksgiving pre-dinner aperitif, but to get the most complementary wine with your turkey and other fixings, choose a mature Beaujolais that has been fermented in a modified fashion, with a quick carbonic maceration followed by conventional yeast fermentation.
An ideal Beaujolais wine with Thanksgiving dinner is a red Beaujolais Cru. (Attention, Beaujolais Cru will not be labeled on the bottle as Cru, it is marked by the village name). The Cru might cost you a bit more, but for the taste and the synchronicity of the wine with your food, for the enjoyment of a complex wine on the palate, you will appreciate your meal and have less chance of a headache the next day (which is what the younger wines can do to the head!).
I wish you all successful Thanksgiving preparations and as always, Bon Appétit!
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