When Quintessential wines asked me to partner with them for a post about Beaujolais Nouveau, it was a no brainer. After all, it’s fall, which means two things: I’m watching football and drinking light reds. So as I was watching the Cowboys-Vikings game last week and tasting the Beaujolais Nouveau that was just released, it occurred to me: Beaujolais Nouveau is the rookie of the wine world.
First, let’s start with a little primer on Beaujolais. It’s a small region in France where they make light reds from the Gamay grape. The wines are generally lively and bright, with lots of soft cherry and cranberry fruit.
Here’s the hierarchy: simple Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, and excellent Cru Beaujolais. But Beaujolais Nouveau is probably the one you’ve mostly heard about and maybe tasted. Originally, it was just made for local people to celebrate the end of the harvest season. Now, over 35 million bottles are produced as Nouveau.
This is where the rookie part comes in. They call it nouveau (“new”) because it’s only fermented for a few days using a method called carbonic maceration, which brings out the fruitiness of the grapes and can produce an aroma that smells like pear or bananas. It’s then bottled and rushed throughout the world so that on the third Thursday in November everyone can pop some corks and announce, “Le Beaujolias Nouveau est arrivé!”
So basically it’s the first wine you’ll be drinking from that harvest – a super young wine, meant to be drunk immediately. Now although we’re seeing the Cowboys’ rookie Ezekiel Elliott absolutely kill it on the field, most other first-years are just getting a run in here and there and working out their kinks. Their first year can be a great indicator of the (hopefully) amazing player they’ll become, just like Beaujolais Nouveau can point to the quality of the vintage that you’ll find in the other Beaujolais wines that’ll hang out in barrels for a year or more.
Quintessential sent me this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau which has that whiff of dried banana, and then lots of dried blueberries and cranberries. This #firstwineoftheharvest has a hint of light dirt to it, and it has a tarter, drier finish than I would’ve expected.
They also sent me the 2015 Beaujolais-Villages which was even fruitier, with red plum and red berries. It has some tannins but they’re balanced by lively, energetic fruit. And I love the bright color of these young Beaujolais – such a light, brilliant magenta with hues of purple and blue.
Last play: see those frosty beads on the bottle? Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drink chilled. It’s a fun, non-serious, young wine, so stick it in the fridge and pour out a few glasses on the next game day!