Bring out the Cheer, the Beaujolais Nouveau is Here!
On the third Thursday of each November, cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey to all parts of the world. As mentioned by Brad Prescott on the IntoWine website….”Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” – (The New Beaujolais has arrived!). He states, “One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun.”
I kind of look at it in a similar light…..like Steve Martin’s exclamation in the movie, The Jerk, when he runs down the street yelling at the top of his lungs, “The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!” Well, the Beaujolais Nouveau is here! I guess everyone can be excited about something.
For me, it would be hard to get really excited about young, “green” wine, were it not for either its tradition as a celebration of a harvest completed, or just another “good” reason to party all weekend. Some wine geeks really get off on this Beaujolais Nouveau stuff and try to relate its qualities to the quality of the vintage all across France.
As you may or may not know, Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local celebration in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. In 1938, regulations and restrictions were put in place to restrict the where, when, and how of all this commotion. After WWII, the official release date was set to take place on November 15th, and then again later to the third Thursday of November tying it to a weekend so that celebrants could “party-on”.
I have had my share of interesting Beaujolais Nouveau experiences. In the late 1980’s, I had the occasion to be in England on this date. I innocently came down the hotel elevator for breakfast at 8 am and was welcomed in the lobby by beret-wearing, accordion-wielding Frenchmen, can-can girls and glasses of Beaujolais.
This year, I find myself in Tokyo (like in Japan) and the experience has no can-can girls, just special pre-fixe menu in the hotel restaurant with a glass of Beaujolais. But, the cool part is that, in Japan, I am 14 hours ahead of all of you in Houston and can start the party that much sooner!
I also remember that Texas has had its own take on Nouveau wines. LightCatcher Winery made a very pleasant “Strawberry Kiss” Nouveau Merlot…..I actually like the way the phase “Nouveau Merlot” comes off the tongue. As I recall, it had a great light ruby color and was great with BBQ ribs slathered in sauce. Spicewood Vineyards had their early release of a Merlot Nouveau, as well. It was a fun thing to do with some extra Merlot grapes – Ah, the days of a few extra, uncommitted Texas grapes, remember? And, last but not least, Haak Vineyards offered their Nouveau Jacquet made from the juice of their Black Spanish (Lenoir) grapes, normally used to make Port wines. In each case, the wines were young, lively, fun, and fruity.
In closing, to all, I hope you are in peak celebratory fashion today and will make a toast to the new harvest and good things to come thereafter. I will do the same with my half bottle of Japanese imported Beaujolais Nouveau (US$ 17), shrimp tempura, sushi rolls and soy beans tonight.