Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beaujolais Nouveau

For a change this time I know what to write about with no frustrating deliberative process to work through first.  On Thursday the 15th of November this store will receive about fifteen cases of Nouveau Beaujolais with about fifteen more on tap for a week lets get started selling the stuff!

Being a history buff, Nouveau snags me right away but there is a problem lying in its pre-history in that there has always been a "nouveau" release in France and probably elsewhere.  Wine producers have historically released a quickly made teaser of a wine in hopes of whetting the appetite of locals who may then be enticed to patronize the regular vintage offerings to follow.  This pre-history of Nouveau existed until 1937 when the Beaujolais AOC was codified in France and the floodgates were then opened internationally for Nouveau Beaujolais.

By law Nouveau must be sourced from the AOC environs but outside of the ten grand cru vineyards, which is opportune to say the least, since those superior vineyards command a premium price compared to basic Beaujolais.  Through the marketing genius of Georges DuBoeuf, half of all Beaujolais production is now sold as Nouveau and that half is all from the "common" lots.  Moreover it is sold quickly before the regular vintage is ready when cash flow is really needed.  It is almost like the industry wrote the law!

Getting back to history prior to DuBoeuf, in the effort to create demand, races were held in France to get the teaser to as many markets as possible culminating with Paris being the then ultimate destination.  DuBoeuf entered the Beaujolais business in 1964 and quickly extended the racing of wine across Europe and then to America and elsewhere, thereby creating the proverbial marketing monster.  At this writing, Germany, Japan, and America are one, two, and three in world Nouveau markets with smaller markets existing everywhere wine lovers congregate.

Gamay is the grape of Beaujolais and Beaujolais is the southern half of Burgundy, France.  Centuries ago Gamay was held to be superior to its cousin, Pinot Noir, but that was a long time ago and today Pinot is held by many of us to be the finest wine grape of all.  The great Gamay wines from the grand cru vineyards when aged four to eight years can give Pinots a good run for their money though.  Nouveau, however, is a different animal and if you want to learn more about the subject, read the two blogs written here on September 15th of this year.  The first blog of that day concerns carbonic maceration, the Beaujolais winemaking process which is called whole berry fermentation in the new world.  "Flash Detente" is the title of the second article and it builds on the first explaining the revolutionary new winemaking technology that seems to take carbonic maceration to a whole new level.  Remember to scroll back since the order is reversed in the blog form.

Next Friday from 5 to 7pm we'll be tasting as usual here at the store.  Two whites that didn't make the cut this week are Chateau de Cray Bourgogne Aligote and Sensi Pinot Grigio, so count on those two and, as seems to be a trend, more Spanish and Italian reds and California Cabernets.  Please join us...and get those holiday gift basket orders in!

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