In it’s 60th year this fall, this tradition takes places on the third Thursday in November. At some point in time it was probably the most famous event, a true global festival, in wine, and probably also the industry’s best known brand. A couple of years later, the whole thing almost ruined the wine producing region. Lately, it has been making a comeback. With a great vintage in 09, a good one last year, expectations have been high leading up to it’s 60 birthday in 2011.
Unable to track down some Beaujolais Nouveau, I had to settle down for a 2010 Beaujolais Primeur from Pierre Chermette.
We’re of course talking about Beaujolais Nouveau, the much loved and hated tradition from the southern part of Burgundy. In short, Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape, and bottled just six weeks after harvest. From a festive event mainly in Lyon wine bars 60 years ago, today around 35 million bottles of the wine are put on the market, with almost half to markets outside of France. Store are not to sell the wine before 12 PM on this day, adding to the hype.
Another phenomenon, social media, has added a twist to the tradition. By tweeting and blogging about it, #NouveauDay, you can join the masses in a global, virtual tasting experience.
Dismiss it if you want as a sleek retailing campaign, but I think you will lose out on some good wine, as the winemaker in Beaujolais have upped the ante lately. And, “serious” winemakers produce their Nouveau too. From Joseph Drouhin (his 100th vintage this year) and Georges Duboeuf (by some known as the”Pope of Beaujolais”) to the likes of Jean-Paul Brun and Domaine Jean Foillard.
So, what about the 2011 version of this phenomenon? Well, again I kinda missed out (again) as I was out on business travel, and did not get my hand on any ‘11 Beaujolais in the neighborhood I was staying. But, the word on the street is that it is, although no 09, a good vintage for the wine. The unusual weather led to an early harvest, and the wine could thus mature a bit longer until the third Thursday in November. I will, and so should you, make sure to track it down, and try it. And while you’re at it, and you’re one of those (us) that have been skeptical to Beaujolais lately, see if you can find a 09 (aged) Beaujolais (Jean-Paul Brun’s L’Ancien is a favorite of mine). I think it might be able to surprise a little.
An easy Wine of the Week to call. “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!“