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In This Issue
 What's Nouveau?
 Louis Jadot 2002 Beaujolais-Villages ($8.99)
 Sylvain Fessy 2000 Domaine Gauthier Morgon ($14.99)
 California Wine Club
 Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Irritating wine bottles
 New, quick and affordable: Zap your text message on The Wine Advisor
 This week on
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

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For all past editions,
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For information, E-mail

What's Nouveau?

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:

By rushing the grapes picked in September through an accelerated process, the Beaujolais producers can get the first wine of the new vintage to market as soon as two months after the grapes are picked. Most new wines aren't available until spring at the earliest, and some of the world's finest wines take much longer. The top labels of Bordeaux, for instance, won't reach world markets for almost two years after the vintage. Barolo Riserva takes five years!

In the early years of the tradition, the new wine could not legally leave Beaujolais until midnight on the appointed day, which was then Nov. 15 every year. (Business interests eventually prompted a move to the third Thursday of November to ensure that Nouveau day would fall at the end of the work week every year, catching revelers in a party mood). In the early days, trucks loaded with Nouveau would leave Beaujolais at midnight, racing the 250 miles to Paris in hope to be the first to slake the thirst of wine lovers who stayed up late to celebrate. The modern practice is much less romantic: The wine is finished and shipped to distributors around the world well in advance, so it's in place and ready to sell on the third Thursday.

Well, no. In other parts of the world, from Italy to California and even in French regions not bound by the Beaujolais Nouveau laws, such as Provence and the Languedoc, similar wines are hurried to market well in advance of the Nouveau date. And in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed and grapes were harvested in March and April, they've been enjoying 2003 vintage wines for months.

Not hardly. An estimated 60 million bottles will be produced, and virtually all of it will be sold by New Year's, about half of it in France and the other half around the world. Most of it will be drunk by New Year's, too, although the old warning that Beaujolais Nouveau turns bad by spring is no longer operative. With modern winery technology and sanitation, Nouveau most likely won't literally turn to vinegar; but even a year in the bottle may see it lose most of the fresh, grapey fruit that is its primary attraction.

Define "good." By its nature, Beaujolais in general is rarely a "cult" or "collectible" wine worthy of contemplation, and that goes double for Nouveau, which essentially compromises depth in return for speed. 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.

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 it "Boe-zho-lay Noo-voe" and you'll be close enough. Avoid the temptation to call it "BOO-JOE-lay," and the chances are nobody will laugh.

The official Beaujolais Website offers plenty of material about the wine and the region, in English:

I've placed this article online as a new topic in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. If you would like to talk about Beaujolais (or any other wine-related topic) in a round-table online discussion with wine lovers around the world, click to this topic at
Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at 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 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 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

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
or call 1-800-777-4443 and ask about their special holiday discounts.

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

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

This week on

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
If there's any theme about wine with Thanksgiving dinner, columnist Dave McIntyre declares, it should be, "Open One of Everything!" And if there's an indispensable wine for such a meal, he adds, it should have bubbles. You'll find Dave's holiday-season advice in his WineLine No. 35,

WebWineMan: Hunting for bargains
Lower-priced wines are all the rage these days, so off we go! Richard Fadeley and his crew of tasters at the Columbia (S.C.) Free-Times take us hunting for bargains, affordable and drinkable:

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
If you believe the reports about improvements in the manufacturing of natural wine corks, things should be getting a lot better: More careful harvesting techniques have been instituted and new cleaning processes have been put in place; and, in theory, increasing acceptance of alternative closures should have reduced the demand for quality wine corks. So, muses our Australian observer Rick "TORB" Einstein, the incidence of cork "taint" should be reducing. But is this the case? Ric lays out his opinion, bold as always, in "What Chance Do We Have?"

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)

 Can you parlez vino? (Nov. 12, 2003)

 Burgundy at a glance (Nov. 10, 2003)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Concentrating mushrooms (Nov. 13, 2003)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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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.

Monday, Nov. 17, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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