It’s that time of year again, Beaujolais Nouveau day is just around the corner! When the clock strikes midnight on 19th November, this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau vintage will be uncorked, served and sold all over the world. A typically French affair, the date is, marked with festivals, fireworks and music. Les Sarmentelles, the beating heart of the celebrations, takes place in the wine’s hometown, Beaujeu and lasts 5 days. Despite last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the fêtes will go ahead in Paris, Lyon and many other parts of France, though a minute’s silence will be observed to honour the victims. Beaujolais Nouveau events will go ahead; Inter Beaujolais describes the celebrations as “symbols of French culture, lifestyle and values”.
What is Beaujolais Nouveau?
In a nutshell, it’s a very distinctive, light, fruity red wine usually served chilled (best at around 10ºC) from the Beaujolais wine region in eastern France. Made from Gamay grapes, handpicked in the Beaujolais wine region, the wine is very easy to drink thanks to its production technique which preserves the fruity qualities of the grapes but not the bitterness of the tannins. The wine is known as a ‘vin primeur’, a wine that may be sold in the same year it was harvested (and is best drunk before the following May). Originally introduced as a celebratory tipple to be enjoyed at the end of the ‘vendange’ season, Beaujolais Nouveau was shrewdly marketed in the 1970s and 80s, quickly growing into an annual event with the slogan ‘Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé’. You can still buy Beaujolais Nouveau party packs!
Beaujolais in figures
Last year 28 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau were sold, not too bad considering it represents around a third of all wine produced in the Beaujolais region. Around 13 million bottles were exported to 112 countries. Interestingly, Japan is the largest export market for this wine, ahead of the US and the UK, buying around a quarter of all bottles produced.
A vin-tastic vintage
The largely dry, hot weather France enjoyed this summer, topped off with some rain in August has resulted in excellent wine-growing conditions. The sole downside to the glorious weather, which particularly affected the vines in the first half of the year, has been low yields with around 600,000 hl compared to last year’s 756,000 hl. However, specialists maintain that it will be a vintage to remember: fresh with aromas of ripe fruit, rich, rounded and well balanced.
Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!