What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

November 15, 2023 - 0 comments

Beaujolais Nouveau is back!

November's third Thursday is a hallowed day for wine enthusiasts around the world as it marks the return of Beaujolais Nouveau. This celebrated tradition, born in the heart of the Beaujolais region in Burgundy, has evolved from a regional affair to a global phenomenon.

But what exactly is Beaujolais Nouveau?

What is Beaujolais Nouveau?


Beaujolais Nouveau, made from the Gamay grape, stands out for its rapid production. Unlike traditional wines that age for years, it's ready just weeks after the grape harvest, thanks to a unique winemaking process called carbonic maceration. This technique involves hermetically sealing whole grape clusters in a carbon dioxide-rich environment which leads to intracellular fermentation and the birth of a wine brimming with fruity notes, vivid hues, and low tannins. It's a wine meant for immediate enjoyment, lacking the structure for extended aging.

The tale of Beaujolais Nouveau stretches back to the 1800s when it was known as "vin primeur," sipped by vineyard laborers to celebrate the harvest's culmination. Over time, these young wines made their way into local cafés and bistros throughout Beaujolais. As transport improved with the arrival of trains, a spirited competition emerged to see who could deliver the year's first vintages to Paris.

In the 1970s, winemaker Georges Duboeuf seized the chance to promote and popularize these wines, coining the memorable slogan "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!" Initially met with skepticism as a mere marketing ploy, it remarkably worked, solidifying Beaujolais Nouveau as a cherished tradition celebrated worldwide, with the wines officially released at midnight.

Vintage 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé' poster
Vintage 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé' poster


Is There Natural Beaujolais Nouveau?

The good news is yes! Esteemed natural winemakers like Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, Lapierre, Jean-Claude Lapalu, and others are crafting exceptional Beaujolais Nouveau, following the same principles of natural winemaking in both the vineyard and the cellar. The trend has even inspired winemakers beyond Beaujolais to create their interpretations of this young wine, such as Patrick Bouju’s ‘Boujulais Nouveau’ and German winemakers Brand Brothers with their ‘Brand Nouveau.’ With natural Beaujolais Nouveau, you’re unlikely to find that infamous “banana taste” caused by a specific commercial yeast often added.

If you haven't had the pleasure of savoring Beaujolais Nouveau, make this the year to experience its light, delicious charm – it's released tomorrow!

Cheers to Beaujolais Nouveau's return!

Georges Duboeuf 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé' poster from 1988
Georges Duboeuf 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé' poster from 1988


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