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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
What's new about Nouveau?

Mid-November approaches, and that means in coming days we'll see the usual news-media attention to the annual arrival of the Nouveau Beaujolais.

What's this all about?

Simply put, it's about cash flow. Over the past generation, the wine makers of Beaujolais in France have capitalized on a once-obscure tradition: By rushing through an accelerated wine-making process, they can get the first wine of the new vintage to market as soon as six weeks after the harvest. Most new wines aren't available until spring at the earliest, and many high-end wines, from Bordeaux to Chianti Classico Riserva, must languish at the winery for years before the producer can reap the profits.

For many years, French law forbade the release of Nouveau until Nov. 21, when - amid great publicity - trucks would race from Beaujolais to Paris, hoping to win bragging rights by being the first to reach the wine bars of the city. In modern times, the law has changed a bit: The official release date is now the third Thursday of November (Nov. 15 this year), and it may actually be shipped to distributors around the world in advance of that date, poised for uncorking promptly at midnight.

What should you expect of Nouveau Beaujolais? Don't count on a great wine worthy of contemplation. When things go well and the fruit of the vintage is ripe, Nouveau can be fresh and light. In less favorable years, it may be thin, tart and sour. It really doesn't matter! It's a good excuse for a party, one last taste of summer and a symbolic taste of the year's wines to come.

Intended to be drunk up immediately, Nouveau is best consumed within a few months of bottling; if you happen to see a bottle of last year's Nouveau still on sale, pass it by, as its fruit will likely have faded, leaving a dull and sour brew. (Regular Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages will last for a year or two, though; and the fine "Cru" Beaujolais, the wines of the region eligible to carry the village name on the bottle, like Brouilly, Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon and a half-dozen others, can last and even improve for several years.)

It's also worth noting that Nouveau no longer holds the title as the world's first wine of the new vintage. Some producers in California, Italy (where "Nouveau" is translated "Novello") and other countries, not bound by the French law, sent out their first 2001 wines earlier this month. And Down Under, where the seasons are reversed and grapes were harvested in the spring, the 2001 vintage is already commonplace.

If you would like to take a closer look at Beaujolais, you're invited to participate in our interactive Wine Tasting 101 Forum, where it is this month's featured wine for study. Drop by for the details.

For more information about Beaujolais on the Web, "Beaujolais Wines" is the official site of Les Vins du Beaujolais, the trade organization. It's available in both French and English at

If you would like to comment on this week's subject, you're welcome to post a message on our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, Or write me at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll respond to as many as I can and do my best to address specific questions. Please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and invite them to register for their own free subscription at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Good value Provence red
Domaine de Fondreche 2000 Cotes du Ventoux ($10.99)
Very dark ruby in color, this wine offers warm, appealing aromas of red fruit and herbs, fresh and slightly floral. Full and juicy fruit flavors are structured with snappy acidity, simple but appealing. Good fruit and crisp acidity make it a winner at the table. U.S. importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. (Nov. 11, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: Works well with a light dinner of chicken-apple sausages on a dab of lima-bean puree with orzo and mild goat cheese.


California Wine Club:
Need a gift that sparkles?

Need a gift that sparkles? How about a rare Vertical Tasting from Robert Hunter?

The California Wine Club recently acquired the last 180 bottles of Robert Hunter's '93, '94 and '95 Brut de Noirs "Extended Tirage".

As the smallest Champagne House in the US, Robert Hunter's award-winning vintages invariably sell out!

For more information or to reserve a shipment, please call The California Wine Club at (800) 777-4443 or visit the California Wine Club website,

Delivery is limited to locations where interstate wine shipping is permitted by law.

Wine Toon Calendar 2002:
A year of wine and laughter

Here's a way to please yourself and friends with a wine-related holiday "stocking stuffer" and support at the same time: You can't go wrong with our new Wine Toon Calendar! This monthly wall calendar, exclusive from, contains a chuckle-worthy collection of cartoonist Chuck Stoudt's zany wine 'toons ... plus dozens of favorite wine quotes for every season, AND more than 100 highlighted Wine Web Links, two every week!

Buy one for your wine cellar and another for your office ... and they make great gifts! Offer them in your wine store, your catalog, or your wine club (contact us by E-mail for information about wholesale prices for re-selling).

While supplies last, order the Wine Toon Calendar at It's only $11.99 (plus $2 shipping and handling for U.S. shipments, $4 for all other countries). Buy one for yourself, and more for your wine-loving friends, and you'll be all set for holiday giving.

And don't forget: Your purchase helps support and The 30 Second Wine Advisor!

Join me on a trip to
the Rhone and Provence

I invite you to join me next June in a seven-day journey through the southern Rhone Valley and Provence, sponsored by French Wine Explorers, a high-quality American tour company that specializes in wine tours of France.

Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin, sommeliers-conseil who live in France, will join me to present this tour, which will feature a week of in-depth exploration of the wines of these two beautiful regions.

The tour is limited to 16 participants, so reservations will remain open only until these places are filled. For more information, click to the details at

30 Second Administrivia
This free E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday, and our daily Wine Advisor Express is E-mailed Tuesday through Friday. Previous editions are archived at

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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time at the Wine Lovers' Page,, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials. If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, click to our interactive, international Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forums,

Vol. 3, No. 43, Monday, Nov. 12, 2001

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