The Beaujolais Nouveau has Arrived!
Originally published in The Heart of Hillsborough, January 2018
Every November, the French give the world a gift best enjoyed during winter days when slate, gray skies make us long for spring! Beaujolais Nouveau is that gift and, put simply, is a fun wine poured for celebration! Indeed, the release of the wine is even jovially heralded from rooftops with the phrase: Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé (the Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!)
Beaujolais Nouveau is unique in that it only became known outside of France after World War II. Prior to this, the wine was served in a celebratory way to workers marking the end of local vineyards’ harvests. It is easy to craft — the grapes only fermented for a couple of weeks before consumption. However, like other wines, it soon developed a popular following leading to formal production in 1951. The best part of Beaujolais Nouveau is that it has never lost its “roots” and is still, as in simpler times, quickly made and enjoyed.
Produced in the Beaujolais region south of the famous Burgundy, the wine is 100 percent Gamay grapes, which give it the famous berry-fruit signature flavor for which it is known, making it quite versatile for pairing. The 2017 harvest received a lot of attention as poor weather had a significant impact on yield, yet the fruit that was collected was excellent. According to Wine Spectator’s Alison Napjus, with the smallest harvest since 1945, the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau, “takes on a particular interest for those who want to draw their own conclusions and speculate about offerings from other French wine regions.”
Jean-Claude DeBeaune Beaujolais Nouveau is a favorite of mine. Like other larger, well-known wineries that export it, such as Georges Duboeuf, the wine is always fairly consistent. Yet, with the unique circumstances of the 2017 harvest, I wondered how it would be reflected in the wine. I procured a bottle from Total Wine in Durham (priced at $9.99) and was surprised to learn how quickly it was selling!
The ruby hue coupled with a bouquet of berry fruit — full of fresh raspberry and strawberry notes — was a wonderful reminder of how Beaujolais Nouveau is such a treat! Tasting, I noted the ripened raspberry and red currant flavors with subtle notes of spice and earth balanced well with the wine’s higher acidity revealed by a hint of sour cherry, lingering long after the sip was complete. These are classic characteristics of the Gamay grape — which is lighter in tannin and alcohol than other red varietals — and as speculated, the excellent fruit quality of the harvest was reflected beautifully in the wine.
The tasting did not disappoint and the 2017 Jean-Claude DeBeaune Beaujolais Nouveau will make a wonderful addition to a mid-winter gathering! Because of the limited supply, it may be useful to utilize the services of a wine shop that can order it if the wine is not in stock. Be sure to mark your calendars for the next release on November 15, 2018!
Citations and Credits:
 Napjus, Alison. “2017 Beaujolais Nouveau: Good Wine from a Small Vintage,” http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/2017-Beaujolais-Nouveau-Wine-Tasting, accessed on November 17, 2017.