Something special happens in France every year after the third Thursday in November. As early as 12:01 A.M, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released! This year Beaujolais Nouveau will release on November 15th, 2012. It’s a historic year because it’s the earliest the wine can be released.
The tradition started over 100 years ago in Lyons and Beaujolais, France. Back then, freshly fermented wines made from early ripening red gamay grapes would fill the local bistros and bars and everyone would drink the vin de l’année (the year’s wine). Eventually the authorities put a stopper on the free-flowing juice, making its minimum release date the third Thursday of November.
The restrictions didn’t deter producers of Beaujolais Nouveau. Instead, they saw it as an opportunity to have an official day to celebrate such a unique wine. Today, up to 65 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are produced a year, half of which get distributed throughout the world, all to be released on the third Thursday in November. Most are enjoyed within the first month of release!
This year, bad weather has plagued the farmers in the tiny region. Their crops of gamay grapes are down about 50% compared to previous vintages. The wines from the 2012 Beaujolais vintage will be rich and concentrated, but there will not be much. This means some areas of the world will not get any Beaujolais Nouveau from the 2012 vintage. Fortunately the U.S. has some stalwart supporters and importers who have made sure that the wines will fill the shelves. At least while they last!
Beaujolais Nouveau has more of a likening to apple cider or a sour ale than other wine because of its freshness. Sometimes the wine isn’t degassed and still has bubbles. When you first taste Beaujolais Nouveau, expect light fruity flavors of raspberry and black cherry with a zing of acidity. Because of the style of fermentation, some wines even smell like bananas or freshly baked bread. Beaujolais Nouveau typically has around 12% alcohol by volume (ABV) and it’s great served chilled like a white wine.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a perfect wine to try with fall harvest foods. Because it is juicy, high acid and served chilled, it works as a refreshing quencher in between bites. Try Beaujolais Nouveau with turkey and mashed sweet potatoes, or better still, a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce. It’s light in alcohol which is perfect for a wine enjoyed during lunch.
Georges Duboeuf is the most well distributed negociant of Beaujolais Nouveau in the United States. You’ll recognize the wine by its bright yellow label. Every year Duboeuf releases a different design.
Kermit Lynch wines brings in some artisan Beaujolais Nouveau and has a list of California stores here.
K & L Wines
Fine Wine Brokers
House of Glunz
Houston Wine Merchant
Fine Wine and Good Spirits
Sportsman’s Fine Wine and Spirits
Vintage Wines Ltd.
Sigel’s Beverages L.P
K & L Wine Merchants
The Wine Club
Brookline Liquor Mart
Boulder Wine Merchant
Heritage Fine Wine and Liquor
Spirits of Mount Vernon
The Wine Source
Bacchus Wine Cellar
Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Grape and Gourmet, Virginia Beach
Kokoman Fine Wines & Liquors
Madeline Puckette is the host of winefolly.com, a wine learning website serving up wine courses, videos and articles to inspire wine drinkers everywhere. A certified sommelier through Court of Masters, Madeline Puckette offers an alternative approach to loving wine: learn by drinking. Follow Madeline @Winefolly as she finds the most passionate people behind the wine.