November 18 – yesterday – was the third Thursday of November and the official celebration of the biggest wine marketing coup of all time, perhaps.
Beaujolais Nouveau is released each year at the same time, thanks largely to Georges Duboeuf. I read a marvelous book this summer – “I’ll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World’s Most Popular Wine.”
The book is fun, great story telling, and educational. You’ll see why and how Duboeuf became one of the biggest names in French wine by selling this inexpensive and simple drink.
I had to be near a wine shop yesterday and so I picked up a bottle of Duboeuf’s 2010 Nouveau for $11.99. I consumed it with a couple of friends last night and remembered quickly why it just doesn’t do much for me. Indeed, if you’re serving guests who are not regular wine drinkers Beaujolais Nouveau just might be a great pick. But there is no finish on the wine and a bit of funk that I find off-putting. And by the way, my friends agreed.
For the newbies the Nouveau comes straight from the vineyard, through the fermentation process, bottled and onto shelves – no time, no oak, and not much going on.
With that being said, there are 10 Cru regions in Beaujolais growing Gamay and producing wonderful wines. The remarkable thing is the price range is so narrow in the Beaujolais region. An unremarkable Pinot Noir can cost $15 but a great one can easily be $50 or more.
The Cru wines are aged and present an entirely different and delicious alternative. And one of the great things, as opposed to my Pinot Noir example above, is you can go $5-$20 above the Nouveau price point and get great Beaujolais wine.
The Nouveau is always around $10-$12. But if you buy a Beaujolais Cru – Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent, Régnié, and Saint Amour – you’re going enjoy it much more.
I recently had a Duboeuf Juliénas for $14.99 and it totally changed my attitude toward the Gamay grape. It had structure, tannins, and nice acidity. It was a great bottle of wine.
Beaujolais is a great Thanksgiving wine but go for a Beaujolais Villages or one of the 10 Cru wines. The difference is small in price and substantial in value.
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