Beaujolais Nouveau Tasting at Webster’s Fine Stationers!


Welcome to the site! If you’re here because you were at the tasting this afternoon, here’s your chance to compare what you tasted with what we tasted and {drum roll, please} find out which wine was what. And let us know what you think in the comments. If you just want to check out some tasting notes on this year’s Beaujolais Nouveaux, please feel free to join the conversation, because we’ve got a real controversial offering below.

As many of you already know, ‘cuz you were at the tasting or you read yesterday’s post, Beaujolais Nouveau is a special bottling of new wine that comes out every November. Now, Beaujolais is a place name for the region in France where this light, fruity wine is made, and the Nouveau is not to be confused with the often age-worthy Beaujolais Villages and Grand Cru wines from the region.

While a lot of wine snobs love looking down their long, bony noses at it because it is generally light, fruity, young and inexpensive, we also happen to think it’s one of the best bottles you can get for your Thanksgiving table.

We did a blind tasting of three Nouveaux, but threw in a ringer – one that is not Beaujolais. It’s just a new red from here in California, but it’s still pretty tasty. All of these are dry red wines, which go with a variety of foods. As always, our notes are here for calibration purposes so that if you tasted melon and we said peach, you’ll know that when we write peach, you’ll taste melon.


Georges DuBoeuf Nouveau

This is your classic Beaujolais Nouveau, although it has a slightly darker color than some years. The nose is kind of closed at first, but it opens up to a very fruity scent, almost candy-like, called tutti frutti (Italian for all fruits). The mouth feel is still classically light with just a little acid and dry, but very light, tannins (that drying sensation in your mouth).

By they way, this one seems to be everywhere, so have fun.


Georges DuBoeuf Nouveau Villages

The Villages Beaujolais are traditionally the mid-tier pretty good stuff, with the Grand Crus being the high end wines. We’ve never seen a Villages Nouveau before, so either this is a rare shipment to the U.S. or a rare bottling. We found this one at BevMo.

This one also has the dark color and tutti-frutti nose on it, but Michael also caught a hint of banana, as well. This one’s flavor is a tad more tart, however, and the tannins are softer.


Charles Shaw Nouveau

Surprised? Yeah, we were, too. We’ve always said that if you didn’t know you were drinking the infamous Two-Buck Chuck, you’d probably like it a lot more than you would if you knew what you were drinking. That being said, we’ve also had some pretty dreadful bottles from this label. The most consistently good ones, we’ve found are the chardonnay, which is the one that has won all the medals, and the cabernet sauvignon.

So we weren’t counting on much when we tasted this one. Anne tasted the three wines blind (not knowing which was which) and actually thought she had one of the DuBoeufs when she sniffed because she caught a hint of what we call French Funk – an eensy, tiny hint of sulphur in the nose of the wine, to which Anne is particularly sensitive. Michael said he actually liked this one a bit better than the French ones – and he was not expecting that.

But it has the same dark color the other two have. The nose isn’t quite as obviously fruity as the other two, but it still has the same light mouthfeel. It, too, has the tartness of good acid and a hint of fizz. Michael thought the flavor was slightly sweet, but Anne didn’t think it was sweet at all. The bottom line was that it compared quite favorably to its two French cousins, though Anne didn’t think it was quite as good.

And, yes, it’s only available at Trader Joe’s.

BTW, the unofficial results of the blind tasting this afternoon – when we asked you which of the three wines were your favorites – are listed below:

Nouveau = 7 favorites

Villages = 5 favorites

Two Buck = 11 favorites

There you have it. But the continuing lesson of OBG is whatever tastes good to you is what you should be drinking. Scores and labels be damned!

Bottle #1
Bottle #2
Bottle #3

The Beaujolais Nouveau is Here!

We always love it when some wine snob sniffs in disdain at the Beaujolais Nouveau release. Let’s be real – all the hype and hullabaloo about the annual release of this brand, spanking new wine is just that. And, no, it is not the kind of fine wine you save up for that perfect occasion with a special menu designed around it.

But, we ask, so what?

Beaujolais Nouveau is the first wine harvested in the Beaujolais region of France and is not to be confused with the much nicer Beaujolais Villages or Beaujolais Grand Cru. It is very young wine, meant to be drunk young. If you see a bottle with the words Beaujolais Nouveau on it and the year is older than the year you’re in (okay, you can make an exception if you’re buying in January), you’ve got a bottle that’s probably too old.

It’s always released on the third Thursday of November with big parties in Paris and a certain amount of press, etc., which is probably part of the reason why the snobs love looking down their long, bony noses at it. The other part is that it does tend to be very light and fruity. It’s not a complicated wine that you’re going to spend an hour analyzing.

There are two things we love especially about Beaujolais Nouveau and it’s timely November arrival. The first is that it is a lovely way to celebrate the end of another harvest. As home winemakers, we’re finally winding down the crazed slog that usually starts sometime in August, with the first white grape harvests, then the extended “will we, won’t we?” wondering if and where we’ll be picking grapes on any given weekend. Not to mention all the various tasks that go on with crushing, pressing, racking (siphoning the wine off the leftover skin and stuff left in the container), and other stuff that goes on until the new wines are ready to rest quietly over the winter.

With the Nouveau arriving just when all that work is finished, it’s a great way to toast surviving another harvest – and we have no doubt that’s part of it in France, as well.

But there’s a second part that we discovered long before we starting making our own wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty much your perfect wine for Thanksgiving Dinner. Not only does the light, fruity profile match well with all the different flavors in the traditional feast, including those sweet potatoes with (blech) marshmallows, it’s also a great beginner wine for those members of your extended family who are either new to wine or suspicious of red wines, in general. This is an important point to remember, because while you do want your wine to match your food, you also want your wine to match the people at your table.

We find that almost every year, we have a couple wine newbies at our table, even if some of them aren’t all that new. They just don’t like red wine – or think they don’t. And we have gotten a few converts with Beaujolais Nouveau.

So give this year’s vintage a try with your turkey and let us know how it went.

Tercero 2010 Outlier

Type: Off dry white wine

What makes it special: Hand-picked grapes from the Santa Barbara region

Plays well with: Spicy foods, including Indian and Mexican

The Outlier is made of gewurtraminer grapes grown in Santa Barbara County. Larry Schaffer, the winemaker and owner of Tercero, said that he’d worked with the grower and insisted that the grapes be picked by hand. He was going to let the grower pick them by machine this year, only after all the bad weather they had last spring, the grower didn’t have any. Well, so much for that experiment.
Gewurztraminer is a German grape and a lot of the California intrepretations of this grape end up too sweet, thick and cloying – think cough or pancake syrup instead of a white wine. Blech.
But this one gets it right. It’s got a good clean nose without heavy florals, along with a lighter mouthfeel and good acids. The taste is the best part – some spicy notes and just off-dry enough to let the fruit come through. This is as close to a perfect food wine as we’ve seen in a long time, just right for some really gooey, cheesy enchiladas.
Tercero does have a small tasting room in Los Olivos, California, but you can buy the wine at the website,

Paso Garagiste Movement Celebrates the Small

The Garagiste Festival happened this past weekend – and not only were we going to go, we were going to do an advance post on the event, just in case some of you would want to go.

Alas, Michael’s grandmother passed away the week before, so not only were we in Arizona for the funeral when the festival was on, we kinda got distracted.

But perhaps more important is letting people know about the movement, which is dedicated to supporting small, artisanal winemakers in the Central Coast region. In fact, we were delighted to see that one of our recent featured wineries, Tercero Wines, showed up on the Garagiste member list.

“They don’t have a lot of money for marketing,” said Stewart McLennan, one of the co-founders of Paso Garagiste, about the member wineries. “They don’t have tasting rooms, well, the majority of them don’t.”

McLennan explained that the term Garagiste is the term the winemakers in Bordeaux use when they want to look down their noses at a small producer. But he decided he wanted to put a more positive spin on the term. He and his co-founders Doug Minnick, Dan Erland Andersen, all make wine at home and also work either writing about or helping to market wineries.

McLennan, a former actor, said that he’d been looking for a larger winery to work for, but came to really appreciate the smaller outfits, producing under 2,000 cases (Paso Garagiste wineries make 1,200 or fewer cases).

“We could take care of being a conduit for all of the people with various amounts of wine,” he said.

The Festival was part of that, but there were also seminars and their website,, will eventually feature wine making videos from various winemakers.

A word about artisan wines – they do tend to cost more than wines from larger wineries simply because these folks are in the business of making a profit – maybe not a large one, but they do want to stay in the black. And because of their size, they can’t take advantage of the economies of scale. But McLennan says that gives the artisanal winemaker more control over the final product. Plus you can make a special connection with the artisanal winemaker that you usually can’t with larger wineries.

“I think what people are getting back to is artisanal stuff,” McLennan said. “If they want to make a luxury purchase, they want to know that it’s really unique. If you know the story behind the wine and you’ve met the winemaker, it makes the whole experience just that much better and it becomes a really unique thing.”

Tercero Wines – Small Production, Big Taste

Tercero Outlier and Grenache Blanc

We met and interviewed Larry Schaffer late this past summer at a tasting of Santa Barbara Vintners and not only liked what he had, we liked him.

But the problem with these kinds of situations is that you’re doing interviews on the fly, so you don’t get the chance to dig and really learn something about the winemaker – and Larry seems really interesting.

He’s worked on the finance and sales side in the music, toy and publishing industries. So naturally, Anne had to ask him what made him decide wine was his passion.

“I lost a bet,” he replied. “It was time to do something different. I had achieved all I wanted to do and I needed challenges in my life and I felt my mind wasn’t being used anymore and science scared me. So I decided to take it on.”

We still don’t know what that bet was. But Schaffer took an interesting route to get to winemaking – he left his career and went back to school at none other than University of California, Davis, which has the oldest and probably most prestigious winemaking program in the state, if not the country. Going back to school to a graduate program is scary enough, but Schaffer had an added challenge – that ol’ demon science.

“Science scared the crap out of my as an undergrad. I wanted nothing to do with it,” Schaffer said. But he found a way to get on top of it before actually getting to Davis. “I took all my general chem, organic chem at junior colleges in Orange County with kids who could have literally been my kids.”

And he said he aced it, too.

Schaffer only makes about 1500 cases of 13 different varieties of wine, and has a tasting room in Los Olivos, at 2445 Alamo Pintado Ave., Suite 104 (. He also shares one of our favorite philosophies – that the same wine can taste totally different depending on who’s drinking it and no person has a better “palate” than anyone else. How do we know? Check out Schaffer’s blog post, from his website