What's new about Nouveau?
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 http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/wt101.shtml 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 http://www.beaujolais-wines.com/.
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, http://www.wineloverspage.com/cgi-bin/sb/index.cgi?fn=1. Or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor.
Good value Provence red
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.
IMPORTER'S WEBSITE: http://www.robertkacher.com/.
Need a gift that sparkles?
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, http://www.cawineclub.com.
Delivery is limited to locations where interstate wine shipping is permitted by law.
A year of wine and laughter
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 http://www.wineloverspage.com/calendar/2002toon.shtml. 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 WineLoversPage.com and The 30 Second Wine Advisor!
the Rhone and Provence
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 http://www.wineloverspage.com/tour.
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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.
Vol. 3, No. 43, Monday, Nov. 12, 2001