Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!
The whole thing started somewhere between the two world wars, in the bistros of Lyon. The owners secured a barrel each from the fresh harvest and celebrated the end of the harvest, along with the new wine, with the tired producers.
The whole thing started somewhere between the two world wars, in the bistros of Lyon. The owners secured a barrel each from the fresh harvest and celebrated the end of the harvest, along with the new wine, with the tired producers. It became a tradition that was also celebrated each year in Paris after World War II, and there was no stopping it from there. By the 1970s, this new French wine was being celebrated overseas on the third Thursday of November.
The Gamay variety, fermentation in whole bunches and bottling the wine fresh – these are the three characteristics that describe all Beaujolais Nouveau wines. The variety, which is the more vigorously growing and early-ripening relative of Pinot Noir, is said to originate from a Burgundian village of the same name, although it is now found almost exclusively in Beaujolais. Made in a classic way, it has a divisive character that is a great favourite of connoisseurs, yet made as a new wine it is one of the most loveable styles we know for a red wine. The result of the whole-bunch/carbonic fermentation is more or less the same as for any other red wine, but the process is a lot more complex, leading to the ‘new wine’ notes of strawberry, sour cherry and fresh flavours. The banana character that the wine is often associated with can form naturally, although it’s mostly the varietal yeast used in the ‘80s that is responsible for this uniform aroma. By now, there is more and more spontaneously fermented Beaujolais with natural flavours.
This year, alongside the four familiar and proven wines, we’ve brought in a new one in as well.
Jean-Baptiste Duperray – Terroirs Originels
The Terroirs Originels is an almost 25-year-old company that brings together the independent family estates and talented winemakers of the south of Beaujolais, with the shared basic principle: original wines, made in a traditional style from the Gamay variety, by family-sized wineries. Out of the members of the group, it’s the wines of Jean-Baptiste Duperray that we have really fallen for in the last couple of years. He joined his father in 2013 and since then they have together been managing the family estate, which is a winery and a dairy-farm in one, in the southern end of Beaujolais. The entire vineyard is planted with Gamay grapes, from old bush vines to the contemporary grape rows under sustainable cultivation. All their wines are about balanced fruit flavours and freshness, most of all the Beaujolais Nouveau that is fermented in the traditional way, in whole bunches for 5-6 days, then aged in tanks until bottling.
A family estate at the southern end of the wine region, near the Rhône. Pierre-Marie took the cellar key from his father at the age of 22 and started bottling the Gamay, which until then had been sold as wine from the barrel. He soon became one of the emerging winemakers in the wine region, and his bottles continue to be mentioned among the best buys. Pierre-Marie follows a Burgundian approach in the winery and the cellar, with minimal intervention and pure flavours. The freshest wines are spontaneously fermented in whole bunches for 5 days, then are bottled after a few weeks of ageing, with a little sulphur. A classic style with natural fruits, a slightly less vivid nose but a really lively palate. It’s direct and thirst-quenching, with great drinkability.
Maison Louis Jadot
One of the most well-known large estates of Burgundy and Beaujolais is Louis Jadot. The story started with a parcel in Beaune in the 1830s, then after 1860, Louis Henry Denis Jadot continued working as a négociant and within a few decades, he became the most important grape buyer of the wine region. They have kept this status ever since, and one can encounter their classic label with Bacchus’ face on it anywhere in the world. Today, they are in charge of more than 500 hectares of vineyards and vinify and bottle from 100 appellations from the two wine regions. Every year, its new wine is one of the most anticipated classics, with its textbook notes, balanced palate and pale red fruits.
Vignerons de Bel Air
The Vignerons de Bel Air is a cooperative winery that was established by a small group of producers in 1929, right before the world economic crisis. They joined forces, hoping for the best, and made their joint-effort wines successful and in the last 90 years many have joined them. Today, they process the grapes of nearly 250 similarly-minded Beaujolais producers, from village wines to the single-vineyard selections. Besides these, their most important wine has always been the Nouveau: modern style, lively fruits and a very light palate.
For the fifth wine, we’ve procured a new wine from the 42-hectare estate of the Dupeuble family. Despite its modest size, the family has a great past, and has been making wine in the southern part of Beaujolais since 1512. Ghislaine took over the management of the estate from her father over the last 10 years, and in the meantime, she has been switching grape growing towards organic methods. The family’s most important wine, the Beaujolais Nouveau, gives 40% of the production in good years. Youthful vines, hand harvesting, processing without sulphur, spontaneous fermentation in whole bunches, and bottling unfiltered. The little residual carbonic dioxide that remains in the bottles following the gentle filling only adds to the freshness of the palate.