It’s the most wonderful time of the year for wine luvhers across the globe! On Thursday, many celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Ahhh, what kind of wine holiday is this you ask? Well let me explain!
A Little History Lesson
Beaujolais [BOE-zjoh-lay] Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region, south of Burgundy in France. It’s not made by a traditional fermentation, with yeast, but by carbonic maceration — a winemaking technique that preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. The conversion of sugar to alcohol happens so quickly that a wine whose grapes were picked this season is ready to drink instantly. (Most Gamay wines fermented conventionally would not be released to market for at least another year.) The result is an extremely light, fruity-tasty wine.
So, apparently the French went so bananas over this wine that in 1938 regulations and restrictions were put in place to restrict the where, when, and how Beaujolais Nouveau was produced and consumed. By 1985 a French law was passed that Beaujolais Nouveau could not be released earlier than 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November. Now, these Gamay grapes are fermented just a few weeks (thanks carbonic maceration) before its official release date. In France, the third Thursday in November is usually a day of fireworks and festivals, when people pause to celebrate a uniquely French custom: the uncorking of the first Beaujolais of the season.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day is pretty big in the wine community. This year I was determined to take part! On Thursday, I stopped by 13 Celsius, one of my favorite Houston wine bars, to see what all the hype was about! I was a little skeptical going into this tasting. Honestly, I haven’t been the biggest fan of French wines. I find them to be very dry and tart, so I really wasn’t expecting much. Luckily, a glass was only $7!
The aromas of this Beaujolais were subtle. I could faintly detect some berries, cherries and a little wood. On the other hand, the flavors of this Beaujolais were quite bold…very fruit-forward. Even though this wine was made just a couple of weeks ago, there’s a matureness to the flavor…not fruity in the sense that it’s sweet…there’s nothing sweet about this wine, but you definitely get strong bits of jam and berries on the palate with a slight acidic finish. I didn’t find this Beaujolais to be dry. The tannins are noticeable, yet very bearable. I also enjoyed how light the wine was on the tongue. It felt like the wine was floating effortlessly in my mouth. I enjoyed every last sip of this wine! It was so good that I bought a bottle for $20 to bring home for Thanksgiving!
Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty special! I definitely recommend going to your local wine bar and ordering a glass. Oh, and you better hurry…supply of this wine is very limited.