Beaujolais nouveau literally means “New Beaujolais”. It is a wine that, each year, is released for sale on the third Thursday of November.
Millions of people around the world celebrate the release of the “arrival” of Beaujolais Nouveau with a glass (or three) of the wine.
Why all the fuss?
Beaujolais is a French wine region just South of Burgundy, near the city of Lyon. In some books, it’s actually considered to be a part of the Burgundy region.
The region principally produces red wines although you can also find both white and rosés.
Red Beaujolais is made solely from the Gamay grape variety. A variety that produces reds that are light in colour and tannin, but packed with aromas and flavours of crunchy red fruit and berries.
The vast majority of Beaujolais is NOT produced as Nouveau.
You will find wines from the Beaujolais region under the names of Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages or one of its 10 Crus of which Fleurie, Brouilly, Moulin à Vent or St Amour will be the most commonly found.
So what about Beaujolais Nouveau?
It’s a wine that is released for sale only a couple of months after harvest. Which is very quick! This is thanks to a special winemaking process called carbonic maceration.
Where does the Beaujolais Nouveau tradition come from?
Well, in 1951, the wine board of Beaujolais, asked for permission to sell some of its wines “en primeur”, basically, before the official released date of 15th December.
It was granted to them and that year, it was agreed that they could sell their wines as of the third Thursday of November.
The demand for these wines exploded in France in the 60s, and then continued it frantic growth in the 80s thanks to the international market.
Today however, the sale of Beaujolais Nouveau has reduced dramatically compared to the great days of the mid-nineties. But quality is on the up!
The wines are typically very fruity, not jammy, but very much more on notes of fresh fruit. They are low in acidity and tannin making them just lovely, fresh, and juicy.
And do look out for the aromas of bananas which are characteristic of the carbonic maceration winemaking process!
Perfect to be enjoyed with terrines and charcuterie. If you like fresh fruity wines, make sure you don’t miss out!