Wine Talk with Alice Swift
Wine Holidays and the Upcoming Beaujolais Nouveau Day
Aside from wine harvest celebrations, one of the biggest wine holidays in the fall takes place in November. The third Thursday in November is marked as Beaujolais Nouveau day in France, and is celebrated with celebrations, fireworks and other festivities throughout the country. French law dictates that the wine is to be released precisely at 12:01 a.m., only a short month or two after the grapes are harvested.
The wine gets its name from the region from which it is produced, Beaujolais, a small region just south of Burgundy, France. There are 10 Cru classified wine regions of Beaujolais wine, made from the Gamay Noir grape. The resulting wines are aromatic, fruit-forward, terroir filled, complex wines with unique personality.
But that’s a story for another day. This month, I’m drawing your focus to Beaujolais Nouveau (translated to “new” in English), which is a special release of wine that has an interesting history. Originally, the wine was meant to be a fun, inexpensive wine to be drank as a close to harvest season.
Then, in the 1970s, one of the greatest marketing strategies made famous by Georges Duboeuf brought this entry-level Beaujolais Nouveau wine out of the woodwork. Duboeuf created a November festival dedicated to its release, in conjunction with a race challenge to carry the first bottles of the new vintage to Paris. In the decades to follow, the popularity grew internationally, spreading across Europe, North America and even to Asia in recent years.
Fun Fact! Traditionally, the marketing slogan was “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrive,” or “The new Beaujolais has arrived.” In 2005, this slogan was updated to a more modern “It's Beaujolais Nouveau time.” Learn more about Beaujolais Nouveau Day at www.beaujolaisnouveauday.com.
The other unique aspect of Beaujolais Nouveau is its wine vinification process, which uses carbonic maceration. The wine is fermented in whole clusters and sealed off without oxygen. The enzymes then break down the grape skins and induce fermentation in the presence of CO2, a.k.a. carbonic acid (hence, “carbonic” maceration). After the macerated grapes are pressed, the remaining fermentation occurs.
The wine is meant to be consumed young, sooner rather than later (within 6 months if possible). The resulting wine is an easy drinking light red with low tannins and intense aromas and flavors of red berries, violets, sweet spices and earthiness. Surprisingly, the most unique aroma and flavor characteristics that make Beaujolais unmistakable are the banana and bubblegum. Weird, I know, but it works somehow! Don’t forget to slightly chill the wine before drinking, approximately 54-58°F (12-14°C).
Georges Duboeuf passed away in January of this year, but his legacy lives on with his son, Franck. The winery used to release their wines with a different selected artist, but since 2017, has held an annual contest accepting bottle artwork submissions for the fall wine release, which has also grown in popularity with social media coming on scene.
To see the 2020 winning artist and design that will be released on this year’s bottle, go to https://nouveaulabelcontest.com/2020-winners/, or maybe even submit your artwork next year for a chance to showcase your artwork! Get your bottle soon after its release.
Fun fact! Did you know that while the US has remained one of Beaujolais Nouveau’s largest export market, a close rival is actually Japan? In the past decade, Japan’s import of Beauolais Nouveau has ranged from the mid-20s to 50% of the annual production!
Other Wine Holidays to bookmark for November:
• Nov. 7 – Merlot Day
• Nov. 9 – Tempranillo Day
• Third Wed. of Nov. – Zinfandel Day
• Third Thursday of November – Beaujolais Nouveau Day
• Nov. 24 – Carménère Day
If you’d like to see a list of the more popular wine days along with a downloadable Google Calendar that you can add to your phone/personal calendar so you can be in the know of the different wine holidays throughout the year, check out this link https://winefolly.com/lifestyle/national-wine-day/#google.
Until next month, Cheers~!