Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! This emblematic phrase has made Beaujolais one of the best known wines in the world.
Every third Thursday of November at 00:01, trucks leave the cellars, so that wine lovers all around the world from New York to Tokyo can start opening bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau. However, these festivities most lively celebrations take place in the region of Lyon, in France.
The city that is the gate to the wine producing region of Beaujolais, where this wine is born. The Beaujolais Nouveau achieved its international fame thanks to its tasting characteristics and the authorization of the early sale in 1951. Today it represents more than half of the consumption of Beaujolais abroad. Thanks to winemakers and wine professionals the Beaujolais Nouveau has been transformed over the years into a global event, the only popular event dedicated to wine at an international level.
This fruity red wine is made from gamay grapes and has low tannins due to the way it is produced, carbonic maceration (whole berry fermentation). Because of this, it can be released months after harvest and just weeks after fermentation. The grapes must come from the AOC Beaujolais, excluding the grapes of the denominations “cru” de Beaujolais. By law, all grapes in the region must be picked by hand. Making Beaujolais Nouveau just about the closest you can get to literally drinking from the vines. Due to the process of production, the wine is meant to be drunk young and in general, it should not be stored for more than one year.
While Beaujolais is not the best French wine, it is perhaps one the country’s most famous wines. So, what is all the hype about? Well, Beaujolais hasalways made a vin de l’année (wine of the year) to celebrate the end of the harvest. but only after the Second World War was it consumed locally. In fact, since the AOC Beaujolais was established in 1937, the rules of the appellation of origin meant that the Beaujolais wine could only be sold officially after December 15th of the harvest year. These rules relaxed on November 13th of 1951, and the Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais (UIVB) formally established November 15th as the date of commercialization of what would henceforth be called Beaujolais Nouveau.
However, this became a bigger event during the 1950’s when the idea of a “race to Paris” carrying the first bottles of the new vintage, was born. By the 1970’s this event grabbed the media’s attention and progressively became a national event. It soon became official that this day would be every third Thursday of November. A strategic marketing move in order to increase sales internationally. This has created a massive hype around the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau. In the United States, it is touted as a drink for Thanksgiving.
The traditional slogan, even in English-speaking countries, was “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” (Literally: “The new Beaujolais has arrived!”), but in 2005 it was changed to “It’s time of Beaujolais nouveau!”.
This year winemakers announced that, “it’s a characterful wine with a taste that lasts well in the mouth …A good vintage.” Want to try a bottle? If you can’t go theBeaujolais wine region, you can purchase bottles at various wine shops around the city, such as Lavinia or even El Club del Gourmet del Corte Inglés.