Beaujolais Nouveau "Vieux"

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 - Label

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (well…France), there lived a man named George DuBoeuf. Actually, there lives a man. At 77, he’s still very much alive – in a region of the land they call Beaujolais. In fact, in that faraway land, in that particular region, George DuBoeuf is king: he is le roi du Beaujolais (the king of Beaujolais).

DuBoeuf built his empire on a wine called Beaujolais Nouveau. If you’ve seen the balloons and fliers and felt the anticipation like the coming of a grand parade, than perhaps you already know that Beaujolais Nouveau is released – to varying levels of press and fanfare – every year on the third Thursday of November. The wine is made from the very first harvest of the region’s non-cru Gamay grapes, and has usually been in bottle for less than two months before landing in festival-colored bottles, all around the world.

Beaujolais has been drinking Nouveau for ages, as a way to celebrate the end of the harvest. Up until the 1930s, Beaujolais Nouveau was a local drink to toast a local job well done. It was brilliant marketers (King DuBoeuf being one of the most brilliant), who realized the potential to take this small-time juice into the Big Leagues. Soon there were international competitions/races for who would get the first bottle. Shipments came by plane, train and hot air balloon. The marketing created a frenzy.

And, like most frenzies, as soon as people calmed down a little, the bloom fell off the rose.

For all of the rejoicing, Beaujolais Nouveau often gets a pretty bad rap. Critics pan the strong banana notes in the wine (mostly due to a particular strand of yeast used for fermentation). While the wine has a little tannin, it’s often pretty thin and tropical and no match for the lively and beautiful Beaujolais that sees a little more aging.

But…

Despite the emphasis on new and young and immediate with Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine can actually last a year or two in bottle. As it gets older, the fruit falls out – which was exactly what I was hoping for. By the time I opened my bottle in February, there was very little evidence of banana. The fruit that remained was rich cranberry, with touches of cherry and strawberry.

Beaujolais Nouveau promises fun, and my “aged” Nouveau was exactly that. Light and easy to drink, and a bargain Beaujolais, to boot! A fantastic afternoon wine; something to get the party started.

I’ll probably pick up a bottle or two next year, and hang onto it awhile. Instead of racing to meet next November’s hot air balloons, I’ll wait until the crowd dies down. I plan to pair my Beaujolais Nouveau with kite-flying and summer picnics, instead.

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store

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