Beaujolais Nouveau Season has Arrived!

This is a guest post from our favorite Parisian wino, Laetitia-Laure Brock of French Twist DC. Be Sure to share you Beaujolais Nouveau celebration photos and tag us! 

The French have a love-hate relationship with Beaujolais Nouveau. Let's face it, it's not great wine and it gives you a very bad hangover if you drink too much of it (which tends to happen since the new wine has very little depth and goes down rather quickly). But it’s still fun to celebrate. 

Part of the fun is the regulation. In a very successful example of Gallic lobbying (yes, the French lobby too…but only for important things, like wine) by a group of winemakers in the 50s, you can only uncork a bottle of this vin primeur on the third Thursday of November. Or at the stroke of midnight on that Wednesday. So every year at this time, drinkers’ attention turn to the otherwise little known wine producing region of Beaujolais to celebrate its Nouveau wine. And it’s kind of unfortunate because there's more to Beaujolais than Nouveau…

Beaujolais is gamay country, a grape known for producing soft and fruity wines, with less acidity than those of its neighbors - Beaujolais is right below Burgundy and above the Rhone. Living in the shadow of these famous wine regions was probably hard for little Beaujolais, but vintners Louis Jadot and Georges Duboeuf did a lot to increase its notoriety outside of France by pimping out Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais Day and by promoting the wine as the perfectly timed pairing to Americans’ Thanksgiving dinners. But they didn’t do Beaujolais any justice, giving its gamay-based wine the reputation of being cheap, simple and light bodied. Kind of like a one night stand you regret the next day.

For those looking for a gamay wine they can at least take out on a few dates, there are several cru appellations like BrouillyFleurie or Moulin-à-Vent, that make very well respected wines. Unlike Beaujolais Nouveau which is meant to be consumed within a few months of its release, these vintages can develop with age. And, if you are willing to stick around with them for a bit and commit, they become more pinot-like. The downside is that you must drop more money on them. 

Every year since it opened on 14th street, I drop by Cork and Fork to pick up a bottle of Beaujolais that I will enjoy with some friends. Dominque, the owner of the wine shop, always sources great bottles of Beaujolais, from small producer bottle (ie. not Georges Duboeuf or Louis Jadot). Like for any other wine, you should look for labels that say “mis en bouteille au château” or “mis en bouteille à la propriété” to make sure you're not getting something totally mass produced. Even better, purchase a bottle of Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau instead or, if your budget allows, look for a bottle of cru for you. These are truly the best of Beaujolais wines and are well worth exploring having a long-term relationship with...