In the 80’s and 90’s Beaujolais Nouveau was a ‘global phenomenon’.
A youthful red wine borne of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc (aka Gamay) grapes, it was originally made to celebrate the end of harvest. Produced in the Beaujolais region (north-west of Lyon), France, it is bottled only 6-8 weeks after the grapes have been picked. By law, all grapes in this region require hand harvesting. The wine is made through a process known as carbonic maceration; where whole berries are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich vessel before being crushed. Being in an anaerobic environment, crazy chemical reactions occur, causing the individual intact berries to break down intracellularly and the juice ferments whilst it is still inside the grape berry. Conventional wine making sees the grapes crushed first and placed in contact with the free run juice, skins, yeast and oxygen.
The result is a youthful, pale ruby wine with a purple hue. It has minimal tannin, with pronounced aromas and flavours of bananas, pear drops, strawberries and figs. It is meant for early and immediate consumption, very much a quaffing wine, lacking the structure and complexity for lengthy cellaring.
Officially, the release of this wine is the 3rd Thursday in November (21st this year) on what is now known as ‘Beaujolais Day’.
Strategic marketing from a handful of négociants (wine merchants) saw the opportunity to liquidate excess vin ordinaire for a reasonable mark up and in doing so, create healthy cash flow for their businesses, whilst waiting for the maturation of their premium wines.
In the past, Beaujolais Nouveau has suffered abuse from over production and has been viewed as a highly manufactured product.
But a new generation of artisan wine makers are intent on restoring Beaujolais’ damaged reputation. Karim Vionnet launched his Villé-Morgon vineyard to ‘make a wine that was simple and natural’. Another producer, Mathieu Lappierre, states that ‘the trend with many of the young wine makers today is to practice vinification and agriculture respectful of the region’s identity.’
Now there’s the reason to join in with the Beaujolais Nouveau Revival!
Celebrate ‘Beaujolais Day’ at The Bobbin Bistro, Faringdon, Oxfordshire on Thursday, November 21st 8pm. Just £25 per person which includes traditional French food and of course, a glass or two of Beaujolais Nouveau!