Monday, November 17, 2014

Clever Marketing or Old World Tradition: Beaujolais Nouveau

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! The New Beaujolais has arrived!

If you are a knowledgeable wine retailer, you know it's rather festive
 to bring a case or two of Beaujolais Nouveau in for many reasons: to educate some wine newbies and to assist those wine lovers who keep this tradition. Also, if you are a wine retailer it is best to calculate how much you are going to sell because it's my opinion the goal should be that you blow this new wine out of your shop before Christmas Eve. 

By the first of December, Beaujolais Nouveau is like Thanksgiving house guests who are still lingering and wearing out their welcome. Seriously - one of my pet peeves is to walk into a large supermarket and see this stuff (often Georges Duboeuf brand) perched with the Valentine chocolates and it's wearing a big mark-down. Clearly you are doing something wrong in your marketing if that happens.

Beaujolais Nouveau is simply "new wine" made from the Gamay grape and most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley regions of France. This red grape goes through a quick fermentation process, about three days, and bottled just weeks after its harvest. Therefore, the wine is fresh and fruity with little to zero tannins, so it's not a wine you want to age. 

At one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, (this week, November 20) little villages and towns around Beaujolais, province of France, celebrate the wine  with parades, fireworks, music and festivals - - and of course, lots of drinking of this new wine. By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is to be released no earlier than the third Thursday of November. These regulations came about in 1935. The official release date was set for November 15th, however by 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday of November tying it to a weekend. 

In America, retailers begin to receive it usually by the Tuesday or Wednesday before the epic third Thursday - - and with that said, it just happens to be delivered before the American Thanksgiving, which is always the fourth Thursday.  Clever marketing by the most well-known producer of Beaujolais Nouveau, Georges Duboeuf or coincidence?  

If you must go with a Beaujolais Nouveau, Georges isn't going to like me very well for writing this, but go for one that is a little higher in price - - and when I say this, the majority of these new wines are all affordable and usually well under $20.  Just don't go for the $9 special. Check out those from producers: Joseph Drouhin, Domaine Jean FoillardDomaine Marcel Lapierre, and Louis Jadot Village, if possible. 

Yes, when Beaujolais Nouveau is served with your Thanksgiving turkey it isn't a bad pairing. the lively fresh and fruity acidity can cut the butter and fat from the gravy and other Thanksgiving side dishes, as well as a fine pairing with the dark meat turkey leg and thigh. 

When a Beaujolais Nouveau is nowhere to be found? There are other wines that I think will be even better with the holiday turkey and sides.  From Oregon I would recommend Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir - 2013. It's a whole cluster fermentation with a carbonic maceration, and very much similar to a fresh and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau. 

Also, if possible and sometimes rare, is a Lemberger from Washington State. Lemberger is a red grape, also known in Austria as Blaufrankisch, with notes of berries, cherries and pepper that will complement those cheesy, creamy casseroles that Aunt Martha and Aunt Edna  brings to the holiday table. If you paced yourself with your dry crisp summer Rosés from France, and especially Walla Walla favorites like Tranche Cellars, Charles & Charles, and Waters Winery, now is the time to open up the remainder and enjoy. When holiday dining with Rosés, you get the best of a red wine, but much lighter so that it doesn't overpower the menu.

And one more thing - - don't scrimp on one bottle or one type of wine, either. Bring out an assortment of wines such as your favorite whites like Chardonnay, Riesling, and Viognier. Don't forget the Late Harvest or Ports for dessert, either. La Fêtes est arrivé!

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