Does the third Thursday in November mean anything to you? If it doesn’t yet, it will now. Considered Beaujolais Nouveau day to wine lovers around the world, this November 17th is the day the 2011 vintage of this delicious wine will be released.
Beaujolais Nouveau (or, Bo-Vo, as I like to call it) is a light, red wine full of youth and vibrancy. It undergoes carbonic maceration- the process of fermenting the juices while they are still in the grape- and is bottled usually only six weeks after harvest. The result is an acidic, fruitful wine that takes almost no tannin from the Gamay grapes from which it is made. Like it’s cousins Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages, Bo-Vo is dominated by red fruit like raspberry, pomegranate, cranberry and red cherries. Many imbibers of this delicious serum (myself included) choose to enjoy it chilled as much as you would a white wine (50-55 degrees). Unlike other wines out of Beaujolais however, Bo-Vo is meant for early drinking, not for keeping.These earliest of wines are often the device by which to measure the vintage for Beaujolais. An excellent vintage for Bo-Vo will mean an excellent vintage for the rest of the Beaujolais vintage. Most say to drink it before the rest is released in May. In fact, it is there that we find the roots of this popular wine…
The Beaujolais region has always been making these young and fruity wines, carefully picking the grapes by hand (one of the only regions bound by law to do so). Prior to the 1970′s however, they did not travel very far, often being consumed only locally and usually out of pitchers from local eateries. Though these vintages of Bo-Vo were used merely to hold the locals over until the full vintage was later released, negociant Georges Duboeuf saw great marketing potential. In the early seventies Deboeuf encouraged the hype for this novelty wine far outside of Beaujolais. He started first in Paris where from it did not take long for the trend to catch on the world over. (don’t we all want to be a bit more Parisian sometimes?)
Today, over 65 million bottles (about 40% of total Beaujolais production), will be distributed around the world. It has become a global race to be the first to carry this newest of wines. To meet this end, the wine has even been carried across the Atlantic on Concorde jet, making it to New York in three hours!
In 1985 the official date of release (according to French law) became the third Thursday in November. The huge American market with its Thanksgiving holiday the following weekend would become a major target, as it remains today.Beaujolais Nouveau is such a food-friendly wine, pairing well with almost any fare, that it has made a regular place for itself at any family’s table.
Beaujolais Nouveau release parties are now popular, uncorking the newest bottles of the vintage at midnight the day of release, often with great pageantry and revelry.
Duboeuf is still the largest producer of Beaujolais Nouveau. Unlike the flower-depicting labels of his other wines, his Nouveau features a colorful artsy design that changes from vintage to vintage.
This year, Just Grapes will be taking place in the hysteria for these much-sought-after wines. If you are a Beaujolais lover, or someone looking to make an easy transition from white wines to red, I strongly encourage you to drop by and pick up some of the 2011 Bo-Vo before it’s gone. You don’t want to have to wait until spring to taste the soft and fruity pleasantry that is Beaujolais, and It is a magical thought to have while slurping down Bo-Vo that is was still grapes on a vine only a few short weeks before.
Let us give thanks- “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!” – (the new Beaujolais has arrived!)