2016-11-01 / Wine Notes

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé!

Robert D. Richards, CSW

You have to hand it to the French: They can make just about anything into a holiday, and on the third Thursday of every November, they do it with wine. Not just any wine, but one that was fermented mere weeks earlier from the Gamay grape that is grown throughout the Beaujolais region of France, which is part of Burgundy.

Don’t confuse Beaujolais Nouveau with the main Beaujolais wines that are produced in the region. Nouveau, as the name suggests, is meant to be drunk when it’s newly made. Crafted through a process that helps to draw out the fruity quality of the grape, the wine is extremely light bodied, very low in tannins, and tastes best when served chilled — not what you would expect for a typical French red.
Some oenophiles are quick to dismiss the wine as substandard, but they miss the point of Nouveau. The wine is meant to be festive — celebrating the recent harvest and creating a sense of communal energy surrounding its November release — and not taken too seriously. You won’t find wine critics waxing about the nuances of the various vintages of Beaujolais Nouveau, but for people who enjoy it and the festivities surrounding its release, who needs the critics, anyway?

A few producers have made names for themselves with Beaujolais Nouveau. Principal among them is Georges Duboeuf. The Duboeuf family has been in the wine business in Beaujolais for more than four centuries. Duboeuf is a négociant, a term used in France for a wine producer who sources his or her grapes or unfermented juice from any number of suppliers. Duboeuf uses some 400 suppliers and bottles the Beaujolais Nouveau under a brightly colorful label, so there’s no mistaking the festive nature of the product inside.

Because the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau scheduled release date is Nov. 17, here’s a sample of what was available locally in the last two years (you can expect the same price points), along with how the wine producers described the vintage. •SCM

Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau 2014
Price: $9.99
This wine was made with 100 percent Gamay grapes and had a clean reflection and presented a nose of raisins and raspberries. Red fruits dominated the finish.

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau 2014
Price: $12.99
This wine was well rounded with refreshing acidity and hints of red fruits, blackberries and spice, plus just a trace of licorice.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015
Price: $13.99
Ruby red in color, this wine was light and fruit-forward with strong notes of strawberry and a nice clean finish.

Robert D. Richards, CSW, is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and has passed the first-level certification of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers.

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