It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talking about Thanksgiving—it’s the time of Beaujolais Nouveau. Crack open a bottle of this young, frothy wine that was on the vine only two months ago and give thanks for the end of another harvest season.
At least that’s the hope of the growers in Beaujolais, where one third of the red wine’s annual production takes place. Nouveau’s wine style—Gamay grapes fermented for 6–8 weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November—is a tradition that dates back to WWII, when it was served in bouchons, or cafes, in the city of Lyons, France. It was sold at these hotspots in such quantities that Beaujolais was considered to be the city’s third river, after the Rhône and Saône.
This year’s fermentation yielded a firmer and more structured wine than in the past—a result of restrictions on yields that were put in place this harvest due to a surplus of Nouveau 2009 leftovers. And what is in the Nouveau bottles this time around is likely to age a few more months. Nouveau at Christmas anybody?
There’ll be no surplus in Japan and China because Nouveau remains a big seller there. In fact, it’s penetrating the fashion world. Beaujolais producers teamed up with Tokyo-based fashion house Lanvin to launch a new line of ready-to-wear clothes. While in Shanghai restaurants everywhere are being decorated with this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau colors red, green, blue and yellow.
Back home in Beaujolais, natives are celebrating this week with street parties and the “Las Vegas in Beaujolais” festival. There’s no word on the gaming tables, but there will be plenty of food, dancing and circus artists, magicians and comics. There have even been marathons taking place on the hills of Beaujolais, with a glass of wine awaiting the winner.
86 Georges Duboeuf 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $10. A full-bodied wine that shows attractive juicy flavors, raspberry and fresh acidity. The tannins are well-balanced. Imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons.
86 Henry Fessy 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $10. A finely structured wine that might well age for a few months. It has a solid, chunky texture and the cherry and berry flavors are concentrated. Drink this wine with food. Imported Louis Latour Inc.
86 Terroirs et Talents 2010 Pierre Dupond Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $11. A ripe style with some weight, this wine edges toward a serious view of Beaujolais Nouveau. The cherry fruits are laced with a firm structure, and with its tannins, it’s firmly in the food-friendly sphere. Imported by Exclusive Imports.
85 Antonin Rodet 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $NA. A powerful, structured wine with firm tannins and a smoky character. Plum and black berry flavors mingle with the characteristic banana, and it has final acidity. Imported by Golden Gate Cellars.
84 Thorin 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $13. Light textured wine with strawberry and banana flavors and gentle tannins. There is an attractive sweet aftertaste that fills out the final texture. Imported by Boisset Family Estates.
84 Mommessin 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $12. Tannins and lean fruit characterize this wine. Red cherry and red berry flavors finish with smoky acidity. Screwcap. Imported by Boisset Family Estates.
84 Albert Bichot 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $13. A very banana-dominated wine, this is softer than many Nouveaus this year. It feels light, fresh, with a raspberry character and light acidity. Immediately drinkable. Imported by Eagle Eye Imports.
84 Labouré-Roi 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $10. Bright cherry aromas with hints of banana. A lively wine, the red cherry fruits give some texture by acidity and light tannin. Light wine, just waiting to be drunk. Imported by Palm Bay International.
84 Louis Tête 2010 Le Pot Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $11. Fresh and as fruity as possible, this red cherry-driven wine is what Beaujolais Nouveau is about. It is soft, with acidity to underline the bright fruits. It’s a lively, easy wine. Imported by Frank-lin International.
83 Bouchard Aîné et Fils 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau (Beaujolais); $12 (Imported by Boisset Family Estates). High in acidity, the fruit has red currant flavors. It tastes lean and the tannins push through with banana flavors at the end.
Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
87 Domaine de la Madone 2010 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Beaujolais Villages); $13. Madone always produces a finely made, structured wine. Berry, tannins and the right balance of acidity give a wine that could be aged. It has a fine, smoky and food-friendly aftertaste. Imported by Michael Skurnik.
87 Paul Durdilly 2010 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Beaujolais Villages); $12. With its more classic label, this wine is far removed from the party-going image of Beaujolais Nouveau. It is more like grown-up Beaujolais, with good cherry fruits, structured tannins and tight acidity. Imported by Michael Skurnik.
86 Albert Bichot 2010 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Beaujolais Villages); $13. Solidly structured wine with just a hint of banana and black cherry. There is a balanced acidity and a dark smoky edge with a very juicy aftertaste. Imported by Eagle Eye Imports.
84 Georges Duboeuf 2010 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Beaujolais Villages); $11. A firmly tannic wine, tight in texture and feeling that’s quite dry. It has acidity, plus flavors of banana and dark cherry flavors. Give it a few minutes to breathe to soften the tannins. Imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons.