Well, tomorrow’s a special day – the third Thursday of November – which means the bottles are jetting their way to us as we speak! Wine that was fruit on the vine mere weeks ago is bottled and ready to grace your table!
I’ve always been dazzled by the accomplishment, more than the wine itself. You have to be really organized to harvest, crush, ferment, press, clarify, bottle and get the wine on the shelves by November 17! Again, the grapes we probably on the vine as recently as mid-September.
What is Beaujolais Nouveau? A light-bodied red wine made from the Gamay grape. The trick to the super fruity aromatics is to load the clusters into the fermenter taking care not to break the berries. Then they pump in carbon dioxide gas so you have an anaerobic situation. The CO2 permeates the skins and sets off “intercelluar fermentation”. Fermentation without yeast! It’s called carbonic maceration. Anyway, it makes a very light fruity quaffing wine with a fragrance that might remind you of Aunt Martha’s ambrosia salad.
Word on the street is that it was a good, sunshiny year and the wine will show oodles of fruit, which is the first duty of Beaujolais Nouveau.
Even more impressive than the efficient winemaking is the brilliant marketing. They’ve built this mystique around the wine, that if you don’t drink it right away it will spoil! The stuff flys off the shelves! Pure genius.
Reality check: Any well-made wine should have at least a couple of good years. It may not be quite as brightly fruity a year from now, but if it’s over the hill that’s a real winemaking flaw.
It’s always fun to open a bottle with your Thanksgiving turkey. Since it’s not tannic at all and relatively low alcohol it’s really quite versatile at the table.
Personal opinion: the best time to drink Beaujolais Nouveau is summertime. The things that make it versatile – low alc and almost zero tannin make it one of the few reds that taste good chilled. It’ s just perfect for your barbecued burgers or hot dogs on the fourth. Down the hatch!
You should give it a try. Not only is it the first release of the 2011 vintage in the northern hemisphere, it usually comes with a very friendly price tag. Cheers!
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