Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!
Today, fans around the world will be celebrating the arrival of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau 2014 -- a young and playful wine fresh off the vines from the southernmost tip of Burgundy.
Since before WWII, the Beaujolais AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée) region has been known in France for creating young wines finished in time to celebrate the year end of vine harvest. Locally, it was the earliest ready-to-drink wine of the year.
In the late '60s, local wine merchants brilliantly mainstreamed this celebration and a race was started from Beaujolais to Paris bustling the fresh vintage into town. This played out as a great marketing ploy and gained immediate attention. Over 40 years later, this expedited distribution of France's vin de primeur has become a worldwide cork-popping race beginning on the third Thursday of every November.
In anticipation of this fanatical wine holiday, Japan ended the embargo at midnight this morning to toast and taste the first of this year's French vintage. Some Beaujolais natives set their clocks ahead to enjoy the wine in the same cadence -- a deserved nod considering Japan, almost the size of California, imported nearly 8 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau (compared to around 2 million bottles exported to the U.S.).
The jury is still out on whether the new Beaujolais itself is worthy of global praise. Most oenophiles agree that the flash-fermented fledgling is merely a CliffsNotes version of a more serious wine. Its flavor profile is characteristically light, fruit forward with low tannins and hints of berries, and bubblegum and banana peels on the nose.
The style of this Gamay grape varietal, if compared to company, could be like hanging out with a young, hot blonde: pretty, fun, immature, lacking character... and after a while, hopefully, you'll crave something with more substance.
If for no other reason than an excuse to celebrate, Beaujolais Nouveau is here, and it's a great excuse to throw a party. Bring the blonde.
Beaujolais Nouveau can be found at: Haskell's, Surdyks, Chicago Lake Liquors, and most large-scale liquor stores or wine shops.
Beaujolais Nouveau events:
November 20, Meritage in St. Paul will begin offering Beaujolais Nouveau for a limited time.
November 21, MPLS Photo center is hosting Fête du Vin 2014 ...Beaujolais Nouveau and beyond! from 6 to 10 p.m.
November 23, The Grand Café is offering Beaujolais Noveau from 5 to 9 p.m. with its 8-year anniversary open house.
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