Beaujolais Nouveau Phenomenon

t_61521November 20th has come and passed with many Beaujolais Nouveau drinking parties and empty bottles.  This is an annual event occurring every third Thursday in November.  But what is the deal?  What is special about this wine and why are so many parties thrown worldwide to celebrate its release?  The Windy City Wine Guy is here to explain.

Beaujolais wine is made from Gamay varietal grapes grown in the Beaujolais AOC, which is part of the Burgundy wine region.  The grape is indigenous to France and was discovered in the 14th century.  It gained fame at the end of the Black Plague- It ripens earlier and is heartier than Pinot Noir, thus making grape and wine more available. 

The varietal provides juice which is a highly acidic.  To soften the wine, a fermentation process known as carbonic maceration is induced.  Whole grapes are fermented from the inside-out before crushing, providing a wine with low tannin and flavors of tropical fruits, like banana, and bubble gum.  This also allows for an early release because the wine does not need aging.

Aside from the fact that Beaujolais Nouveau is the earliest released wine after harvest, there is no reason for celebration.  People just love a party, and this event is reason enough.  After bottling, there is a race to see how fast these wines can make it to Paris and the rest of the world's markets.  In Chicago, there were many release parties and celebration.

While it can be a fun wine and event, it is important to note there is more to Beaujolais than just Nouveau.  This wine is made from grapes grown all throughout Beaujolais.  More select areas (39 communes/villages)are picked to create Beaujolais-Villages AOC wines, making a slightly superior product.  Also, there are 10 "Cru" (village areas) which contain richer soils and lower maximum yield restrictions.  With the addition of oak aging, these wines are higher quality and fuller bodied.  The best thing about them is the price- Cru Beaujolais can be had for just dollars more than a Nouveau.

Whether you are looking to join the Nouveau celebration or want a good inexpensive wine, Beaujolais can bring an abundance and variety in many circumstances.  Enjoy!