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• Pleasant, fresh aromas of raspberries and Concord grapes. Tasted lightly chilled, it produced flavors of blueberry, dry strawberry, candied apple and an earthy, truffle note.
I used to love the third Thursday in November. No, that’s not the fourth Thursday associated with turkey (I still love Thanksgiving). The third Thursday of the 11th month is Beaujolais Nouveau Day. This is the day when producers in the region just south of Burgundy (technically, part of Burgundy, but that’s another matter) release the first wine of the vintage.
Made from the humble, fruity gamay grape, most “regular” Beaujolais wines run the gamut from pretty pedestrian to quite yummy. Their Beaujolais Nouveau cousins are cut from the same cloth, but are something quite apart from the Beaujolais known as Beaujolais-Villages or Cru Beaujolais. Beaujolais Nouveau run the gamut from inoffensive to pretty offensive (think headache-in-a-glass).
That headache-in-a-glass thing is what eventually pushed me away from the Nouveau stuff. But why did I like it in the first place?
Well, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is less about celebrating Beaujolais wine and more about celebrating life, abundance and the gift of wine in general. At its core, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is a harvest festival (and part of a marketing scheme, but that’s another matter, too).
I absolutely loved celebrating life and wine in general on B.N. Day, but couldn’t we find something better to fill our glasses?
Beaujolais Nouveau Day has lost its luster a little in recent years. I don’t see as many release parties and hullaballoo as I used to. I still receive B.N. samples, usually a week or so ahead of their worldwide release (part of that marketing scheme mentioned earlier). For the past four or five years, I somehow or another have forgotten open them. Oops!
Earlier this month, I decided to pull the cork on a Georges Duboeuf 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau for no other reason than it has been an age since I’ve had a B.N. On a personal note, it will remain the first of hundreds of vintage 2010 wines I will taste in my lifetime. That’s still a pretty cool geeky wine thing.
For drama’s sake, I’d love to say it was delicious. It wasn’t. But I can’t say it was bad either. Somewhere along the line it lost its Bazooka Bubble Gum flavor, a quality I could never really stomach. I think many wine drinkers would enjoy this wine, especially at $11 a bottle (and I’ve seen it for as little as $8.50 around town).
Given the choice, I still would pony up the extra five to 10 bucks for a Beaujolais-Villages or a Cru Beaujolais—some of the best values in the wine world. These “regular” 2010 Beaujolais wines will be released sometime in late 2011. That’s not to say we can’t once again raise a glass of fresh, fruity 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau and say: “Here’s to wine! Here’s to life!”
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.