It’s the time serious red wine lovers love to hate, the season of Beaujolais Nouveau. While many condemn the trendiness of Beaujolais Nouveau as a recent invention to dispose of a surplus of wine, a “vin de saison” has been a fixture of life in the Beaujolais region for centuries. They have always made a wine that was fermented a short time and consumed in its fruity youthfulness as a way to celebrate the end of the harvest. True, the marketing hype surrounding the official release of this nouveau, or new, wine is a recent trend, but the idea of a fruity, just-fermented wine is enshrined in Beaujolais tradition.
Beaujolais, a region just to the south of Burgundy, is famous for its granitic soils and its love of the gamay grape. Gamay, a cousin of pinot noir, makes a red wine that is delightfully fruity, low in tannin and with moderate acidity. It’s the consummate bistro wine and to be honest, a good Beaujolais can easily be confused for a good pinot noir. I’m not about to argue that Beaujolais Nouveau, fermented quickly and released shortly after harvest, on the third Thursday of November (that’s today!) represents the best of what Beaujolais is capable of being, but it’s a fun quaff that represents about 25 percent of the wine produced in the Beaujolais region.
Beaujolais Nouveau graces countless Thanksgiving tables where, with its moderate acidity and low tannin, it’s a good pairing for frequently overcooked turkey with too-salty stuffing. It’s a fun drink and as much as I tell my friends there is far better Beaujolais than nouveau for only a few dollars more, I confess I’ll be in the queue to buy a couple of bottles later today and I’ll probably go for the ubiquitous flower-labeled bottle from the “King of Beaujolais,” Georges Duboeuf – artist Chloé Meyer won a contest to have her art featured on the 2018 label. It’s a great after-work glass to share with friends, and even in our warm Florida climate, it’s a wonderful harbinger of the red wines we embrace as the weather begins to cool, however slightly. So, let’s celebrate Beaujolais and the wine culture of France that gives so much pleasure.