Did you know that the third Thursday of November is Beaujolais Nouveau Day? Ahead of this important date for wine lovers, we invite you to discover ten facts about this often-misunderstood French red wine.
1. What is Beaujolais Nouveau anyway?
This French red wine is made 100% from Gamay grapes! This is the only grape variety authorised for the production of Beaujolais Nouveau. This grape variety produces delicious wine with aromas of red and black fruits, as well as a floral touch.
2. Doesn’t it have a banana taste?
This unusual taste doesn’t come from the Gamay grape itself, but from a yeast that was once used in the wine-making process. But it’s no longer used today, so no more banana flavours in Beaujolais Nouveau!
3. Why do we talk about a vin primeur?
It’s also called “new wine”. This term refers to a wine that is marketed while it is still very young, almost immediately after the harvest (about two months).
4. Is it rushed?
Its winemakers prefer to talk about a race against time. Everything has to be ready for the third Thursday of November, the day of its launch, and this deadline obliges them to work extra efficiently throughout its production process (from the vines to the cellar) for an optimum result.
And no, the vinification is not done in accelerated mode, but according to a Beaujolais method which allows the maximum of aromas to be extracted in record time. The first particularity of this method is that the Gamay grapes are thrown whole into the vat. At the bottom, the settling of the bunches releases the juice and the yeasts (naturally present in the grapes), which then begin their work releasing CO2. The carbon dioxide gradually replaces the oxygen in the air and the grapes, located in the upper part of the tank, will start to ferment, but actually inside the berry itself, which is unique to this method! The result is a very special colour and aroma.
5. How long can you keep it for?
Okay, it’s not meant to age in your cellar, but it can still be kept for several months. You can wait a little and enjoy it in the spring for example. Its fruity and easy-drinking profile is perfect for celebrating the arrival of the warm weather.
6. What should you pair it with?
Synonymous with conviviality, Beaujolais is quite versatile when it comes to food pairings. Particularly good choices include French cheeses, spicy Asian dishes, and chocolate desserts.
7. But why the third Thursday in November?
The story goes back to 1951, exactly 70 years ago! In 1951, a ministerial decision forbade the sale of AOC wines before 15 December of the year of harvest. There was an uproar in the Beaujolais region, as it was customary to release part of the production in new wines. The sale of primeur wines was finally accepted. But in order to be able to organise themselves better, the winegrowers asked for a date which was previously set for 15 November. For practical reasons (15 November sometimes falls on a Sunday), the date was changed in 1985 to the third Thursday in November – Beaujolais Nouveau Day!
8. Is Beaujolais Nouveau Day just a French celebration?
A symbol of conviviality, this light and easy-to-drink wine is enjoyed throughout Europe, the United States and especially in Asia, where half of its production arrives. The Japanese, in particular, are very fond of it. In fact, they are the first (thanks to the time difference) to taste and celebrate it with great gusto!
9. Where is Beaujolais produced?
Described as “the most sensual of vineyards” according to the Revue du Vin de France, Beaujolais covers 17,324 hectares of a very varied terroir and has no less than 12 protected designations of origin, including 10 crus that make its reputation (Brouilly, Chénas, Morgon, Juliénas, Saint-Amour, etc.). Intense and refined, each with its own personality, they offer excellent ageing potential.
10. One last little fact
Does paradise ring a bell? It is the name given to the very aromatic and sweet (and not at all acidic) juice that comes out of the press where the grapes, after carbonic fermentation, have been placed and pressed.
Translated by Chelsea Cummings from Isabelle Escande’s original French article: Être prêt pour l’arrivée du Beaujolais Nouveau.