Never heard of Beaujolais Nouveau?
Well, here's a short history taken directly from In To Wine:
At one past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! "The New Beaujolais has arrived!" One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun.
Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local phenomenon in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each fall the new Beaujolais would arrive with much fanfare. In pitchers filled from the growers barrels, wine was drunk by an eager population. It was wine made fast to drink while the better Beaujolais was taking a more leisurely course. Eventually, the government stepped into regulate the sale of all this quickly transported, free-flowing wine.
What makes the Beaujolais Nouveau so special?
Here are 10 Facts:
1. Beaujolais [BOE-zjoh-lay] Nouveau is always released the third Thursday of November, regardless of the start of the harvest.
2. The region of Beaujolais is 34 miles long from north to south and 7 to 9 miles wide. There are nearly 4,000 grape growers who make their living in this picturesque region just north of France's third largest city, Lyon.
3. All the grapes in the Beaujolais region must be picked by hand. These are the only vineyards, along with Champagne, where hand harvesting is mandatory.
4. Gamay (Gamay noir Jus Blanc) is the only grape permitted for Beaujolais. While certain California wineries may label their wine "Gamay Beaujolais" this is not the same grape variety as what is grown in France, and is quite different in taste and growing habits.
5. Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be made from grapes grown in the 10 crus (great growths) of Beaujolais-only from grapes coming from the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages.
6. Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration, also called whole berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.
7. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young-in average vintages it should be consumed by the following May after its release. However, in excellent vintages (such as 2000) the wine can live much longer and can be enjoyed until the next harvest rolls around.
8. Serve Beaujolais Nouveau slightly cool, at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit-the wine is more refreshing and its forward fruit more apparent than if you serve it at room temperature.
9. Approximately 1/3 of the entire crop of the Beaujolais region is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.
10. The region of Beaujolais is known for its fabulous food. The famed Paul Bocuse Restaurant is just minutes from the heart of Beaujolais, as is Georges Blanc's eponymous culinary temple. These great restaurants have plenty of Beaujolais on their wine lists. This quintessential food wine goes well with either haute cuisine or Tuesday night's meat loaf.
So only having learned all of these facts, I was determined to get my bottle of Beajoulais Nouveau TODAY and drink it TODAY. I was assured that every grocery store would have it out today so off I went.
First grocery store--FAIL
Second grocery store--FAIL
Finally, 2 hours and about 20 miles later . . .
How awesome is this label? Truly a work of art.
The back label reads:
Nouveau Expression: Make a Statement
The 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau is here! Refreshing, fruity and perfectly balanced, Nouveau is best served chilled with friends. The wine is youthful, lively, distinctive and fun-just like the original artwork created by NY artist Mr. Kaves to celebrate its release. Art in any form is a means to express yourself, your culture or to make a statement. So raise your glasses to the spirit of Nouveau and Make a Statement!
I bought 2 bottles. One to open today and one to save for Thanksgiving to share with friends.