It's that time of year again, so we might as well get the obligatory annual topic out of the way: Here comes the Beaujolais Nouveau!
Traditionally the first wine of the new vintage in the Northern Hemisphere, this simple, grapey French wine will go on sale around the world on Thursday at midnight, the hour set by law for its release.
For some reason, this not-so-old tradition (which started in France only in the years after World War II and spread to the rest of the wine-loving world by the 1980s) has captured the interest of the general news media, which briefly turns its attention to the world of wine at this time every year to cover the story. And just about every self-respecting wine bar and wine shop will hawk the stuff on Thursday, putting up displays with banners announcing, in French, "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!"
Let's run down a few quick points about Beaujolais Nouveau, hoping to separate the hype from the reality:
WHAT MAKES IT "NOUVEAU"?
HOW DO THEY GET IT OUT SO FAST?
IS IT REALLY THE FIRST WINE OF THE YEAR?
IS IT RARE?
WELL, IS IT GOOD WINE AT LEAST?
There's been a lot of publicity about this year's record-breaking summer heat throughout Europe. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the Nouveau, but don't count on a transcendent experience. Take it as a good excuse for a party, an opportunity to enjoy the first taste of the new vintage. But don't take it too seriously, because this quick-to-market wine isn't really meant for that.
SAY, HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THAT, ANYWAY?
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
TALK ABOUT BEAUJOLAIS ONLINE:
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at email@example.com. I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.
While we're waiting for the Nouveaus to come in, here are my tasting reports on two "regular" Beaujolais: The most recent release from Louis Jadot, whose Beaujolais-Villages I've found to be consistently well-made, balanced and pleasing, year in and year out; and a three-year-old Beaujolais from Morgon, one of the dozen Beaujolais communes that's permitted to use the village name in place of the more generic "Beaujolais" on the label.
Louis Jadot 2002 Beaujolais-Villages ($8.99)
This dark cherry-red wine offers appetizing fresh-fruit aromas, ripe strawberries and juicy red plums on the nose and palate, crisp and clean, without a hint of the weird banana or salad-dressing aromatics that afflict many inexpensive Beaujolais. Good fruit-acid balance and red-fruit flavors remain clean and consistent in a long, fresh finish. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., NYC. (Nov. 16, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Ripe fruit and crisp acidity made it a very good cross-border Franco-Italian match with fettuccine with ragu Bolognese.
VALUE: Very good value at this price, head-and-shoulders above most Beaujolais in the under-$10 niche.
WHEN TO DRINK: Delicious now and probably best while its fruit is young and fresh, but it should last a year or two on its side in a cool place before its flavors fade.
WEB LINK: Louis Jadot's Website is online in French and English. Here's a link to the English-language home page:
Here is the U.S. importer's fact sheet on the Jadot Beaujolais-Villages:
Sylvain Fessy 2000 Domaine Gauthier Morgon ($14.99)
Inky dark-ruby color, dark for a Beaujolais. Earthy raspberry and black-fruit aromas are balanced and appealing if neither as exuberant nor as "grapey" as you'd expect of a younger Beaujolais. There's plenty of fruit flavor, juicy and ripe, laced up with lemon-squirt acidity and discreet earthy notes. U.S. importer: HB Wine Merchants, NYC. (Oct. 19, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Good match with a light dinner salad topped with a few rounds of lamb sausage spiced with a hint of cumin.
VALUE: The "cru" Beaujolais that bear village names often rise to the mid-teens, but I wouldn't pay more.
WHEN TO DRINK: The conventional wisdom is that good cru Beaujolais can age into something akin to Burgundy, so if you're a gampler and have the ability to cellar wine at the proper cool temperature needed for aging, it might be worth a try. But it's certainly ready to drink now.
California Wine Club
Ever heard of these wineries: KitFox Vineyards, Ledgewood Creek, Baileyana and Buttonwood Farm? These, and many other terrific family-owned California wineries, will soon be featured by The California Wine Club. Small-production vintners making award-winning wine, not available in local stores! Each wine featured in The California Wine Club is hand-selected and comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
This holiday season spoil your friends and family (and why not treat yourself?) with a gift subscription to The California Wine Club. Each month includes two bottles of award-winning wine and an informative 8-page newsletter. $32.95 per month plus shipping. Send as many months as you wish! Visit
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth:
Irritating wine bottles
If you think all wine bottles look alike, you might not be paying attention. You've got your tall bottles, fat bottles, squat bottles ... embossed bottles, bottles with funny shapes, bottles in colors other than the traditional green.
Wine collectors discover that bottle shapes matter the first time they try to cram an extra-fat jug into a wine-rack space that won't accommodate it ... and you don't need to be a collector to grumble when that extra-tall bottle won't stand upright on the refrigerator shelf.
In this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, we invite you to examine the wacky array of shapes, sizes, ornamentation and colors and tell us about, "The wine bottles that irritate you most." You'll find your "ballot" online at
New, quick and affordable: Zap your text message on The Wine Advisor
As I frequently point out to those of you in the wine business, there is no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than an advertising "sponsorship" on WineLoversPage.com.
Now, just in time for the busy holiday season, we're introducing another low-cost, high-impact alternative that makes it easy even for small wine-related businesses with limited advertising budgets to reach our international audience of wine-savvy readers with a simple, discreet and affordable text message in The 30 Second Wine Advisor. It's just about as quick as tapping out an instant text message on your mobile phone, and not a whole lot more expensive.
For more information, or to reserve space while it's available, write me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:
Dave McIntyre's WineLine: Celebrate the Day
WebWineMan: Hunting for bargains
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is near, and Fadeley's wine-matching tips for wine and the holiday feast remain as helpful as ever, still in our archives at Talking Turkey!
TORBWine: Skeptical eye for the cork guys
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Oxidized, maderized (Nov. 14, 2003) http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa031114.phtml
Can you parlez vino? (Nov. 12, 2003) http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa031112.phtml
Burgundy at a glance (Nov. 10, 2003) http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa031110.phtml
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Concentrating mushrooms (Nov. 13, 2003)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Nov. 17, 2003