Yes, it’s time to taste this year’s offerings of Beaujolais Nouveau. We had to wait until the much-celebrated release on the second Thursday of November to get ours, and the day blew right past us. But got some we did. And we’ve drunk it. And we’re going back to get some more because it should still be available all the way through the holiday season.
Beaujolais Nouveau is literally new Beaujolais, Beaujolais being a place name in the Burgundy region of France. It’s made from the gamay grape, and when it’s made to be aged, such as in Beaujolais Villages, it can be a glorious thing. But the Nouveau is made from grapes that were just picked earlier this fall. Granted, the big release is mostly a marketing thing. But it’s still fun.
We know a lot of wine people who love deriding the tutti-frutti, almost soda pop, nature of Beaujolais Nouveau. And, yet, we’ve always enjoyed it. It’s one of the few wines that work with sweet potatoes (even with, ick, marshmallows). We could never understand why some folks just didn’t like it.
Then it hit us a couple years ago. We make wine at home, so we taste new wine at all stages of fermentation and aging. So new wine is perfectly normal for us.
We started with a bottle of 2018 Domaine Depeuble Beaujolais Nouveau, which was a Kermit Lynch import. It had the traditional tutti fruity character. In fact, it was a good cocktail wine that didn’t need food to be enjoyed. Not only that, it should go well with the range of sweet-herbal-rich-salty foods that land on the average holiday table. Modest 12.5 percent alcohol won’t flatten you like the tryptophan in the typical turkey meal.
We also sampled the current George Deboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau in both the red and a new rosé for 2018. The red was slightly more restrained than in previous years. Still very fruity but slightly reduced acidity. The rosé resembled the red in the aroma but the flavors were similar to a summertime beverage – bright and cleansing without the tutti-frutti.
Of course, these are wines to be enjoyed right now. The nouveau will lose its balance within a few months and the rosé shouldn’t be expected to last into the spring. However, it may be worth picking up a few bottles for the casual winter meals and save the bigger reds for the rib roasts and mignons.