Drink it young
Every third Thursday of November the world throws a party for Beaujolais Nouveau – a wine described by many as “not necessarily the best wine out there.”So why then is there so much hoopla surrounding the French red?”Beaujolais Nouveau is the only wine that is produced from the vintage in the same year,” La Tour’s sommelier Paul DiMario said. “Most wine grapes are picked, fermented and not usually released until at least the same time the following year.” It has become a world-wide race, DiMario said, to be the first people to serve the new wine of the harvest. The tradition started as a local phenomenon in the local bars, cafes and bistros of Beaujolais in France, where the wine is produced. Paris soon found out about the wine and jumped on the celebration band wagon, and then the rest of the world followed suit. In 1938, regulations were set to restrict when, where and how the wine is shipped out. In 1951, the regulations were revoked by the region’s governing body – the Union Interprofessioanl des Vin de Beaujolais – and that government set an official release date of Nov. 15. In 1985, the date was again changed to the the third Thursday of November solidifying the celebration. But according to French law, Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be released before midnight on the third Thursday of November.”It’s literally stuck on a plane at midnight with the French government watching and flown over to the U.S. and then shipped out in rapid fashion all over the country,” DiMario said.
Pollyanna Forster, co-owner of eat! drink! in Edwards, a gourmet wine and food shop, said part of the excitement surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau is due to the fact that it’s the first wine people taste from the 2005 harvest. So even though the other wines bottled in 2005 might not be tasted until years later, Beaujolais Nouveau is a preview of what’s to come.”It’s indicative of what the 2005 vintages will be like throughout France,” Forster said. “It’s a rite of passage for the vintage.”Originally, Forster believes, Beaujolais Nouveau was released early as a thank you to the vineyard workers. They could enjoy the wine and the fruit of their labor soon after they finished the harvest season. As far as it catching on the U.S., Forster said it has to do with the timing.”The No. 1 reason to enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau is it’s a celebration of the season,” Forster said. “Champagne at New Years and Beaujolais in the fall. It’s a time to celebrate what’s coming out of the ground.”Eat! drink! and La Tour in Vail Village both hosted parties Thursday night in honor of Beaujolais Nouveau. La Tour served winemaker Georges Duboeuf’s version, who is the most famous producer of the wine, stamping all his bottles with a recognizable flashy, colorful and floral label. Eat! drink! opted to serve Joseph Drouhin, a smaller producer of the wine. Both parties served coq au vin, a classic chicken dish that is braised in its own juices with mushroom and vegetables for at least 48 hours. The earthy flavors pair well with Beaujolais Nouveau’s fresh fruity profile, which also makes it a perfect match for turkey and Thanksgiving.
“They label it a red that drinks like a white,” Beaver Liquors sommelier Dan Mahan said. “It’s super fruity, fresh and young. It’s really easy to approach, easy palatable for people who think their palate is not trained and fancy.””It’s almost a candy, bubble gum kind of flavor,” DiMario said. “This is definitely a lay men’s wine.”Beaujolais Nouveau is made from gamay grapes. It’s a wine intended to be drunk while it’s young. It’s not an age worthy wine or one that should sit in the cellar.”This is a wine that should be drunk within the first year of its life,” DiMario said.Chris Oppenheimer, who was at eat! drink! Thursday night to celebrate the release, said she first encountered Beaujolais Nouveau six years ago in France while working as an international flight attendant. She said just be driving around you could tell something big was happening.
“I think the French believe that if you drink a glass, it gives you good luck the rest of the year,” Oppenheimer said. “I’ve been having a glass every year since.”Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado