A French Chef Told Us to Drink This

It’s wine. You should listen.

By The Editors
November 18, 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes marketing campaigns bear good fruit.

Such is the case of “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé,” celebrated in France and worldwide on the third Thursday of November (that’s tomorrow, fellow English majors).

First, the name: Beaujolais is a winemaking region that’s become synonymous with its chief export, similar to Burgundy or Champagne.  As for the Nouveau part: these wines don’t sit around aging — just weeks ago, they were grapes on the vine. Temperamentally, they’re as close to a white wine as a red wine can be: fruity and fun.

Their quality is up for debate. Beaujolais is “sold with more fanfare and hoopla than the wine deserves,” according to at least one critic.

The quality of the fanfare and hoopla, however, is legit.

What we like about the style is how it reflects the French attitude towards wine: as an everyday thing, not some production involving $410 corkscrews and stemware you keep under lock and key.

So here’s a primer on Beaujolais, courtesy of Franck LeClerc, the French-born owner of the restaurant group that oversees SF hot spots Gitane, Gaspar and Cafe Claude.

What is Beaujolais and why is it such a big deal?
“Beaujolais nouveau or primeur is a young wine from the Beaujolais region of France that comes from handpicked gamay grapes. It is quite unique for a wine to have an orchestrated release, as Beaujolais Nouveau does. It was a great marketing opportunity.”

Why is it celebrated on one specific date, and where does that date come from?
“Back in the early 1950s, a group of vintners led by Georges Duboeuf authorized the release of this young Beaujolais on the wine market. At the time, it was the 15th of the month, but in 1985, they changed the date to the third Thursday in the month of November. This date was arrived at by studying over 100 vintages.”

Does it taste different from everything else?
“Depending on the year, as they alternate the flavor of the vats, you will find flavors such as bananas or candy. The latest trend is to move away from those simple flavors and to obtain more obscure aromas.”

What should I drink it with?
“Beaujolais Nouveau is a festive event and pairs best with housemade charcuterie with saucisson, terrines, and specialty hams. Also, let’s not forget some cheese!”

To try it out, LeClerc’s Café Claude will offer complimentary tastings on November 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. After that, it’s $12 a glass or $48 a bottle for Domaine Dupeuble 2015 until it’s gone.

Photo via Flickr


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