Every year on November’s third Thursday, the latest vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau is released. Beaujolais Nouveau is a young red wine made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. Don’t age this one – Beaujolais is all about drinking it now.
French law dictates that Beaujolais Nouveau can be released at 12:01 am on the third Thursday of November. It’s so young at this point that the grapes were harvested only weeks earlier, with a short (obviously) fermentation period. Because of this method, the wine is often bright and fruity, with just a hint of tannins. I find it tastes best just a little chilled, and tends to pair nicely with Thanksgiving turkey, so it’s probably okay to age it about a week.
Environmentalists and slow food movement folks tend to get all up in arms about Beaujolais Nouveau. After all, with such a short production cycle, it’s hard to get all that wine exported and ready to go by the third Thursday. Beaujolais Nouveau has one hell of a carbon footprint.
In recent years, Beaujolais producers have really been trying to curb their environmental impact. More and more producers are using environmentally friendly PET bottles, for example. PET bottles use similar material to the 2L bottles of Coke you can pick up at the grocery. The material is 100% recyclable and weighs nearly 50% less than glass. That means it weighs less on the flight over, using less jet fuel.
Of course, not everyone is flying the wine over on a super-fast jet. Georges DuBeoeuf, the largest producer of Beaujolais, has a dispensation from the French government allowing him to bottle and ship early – on boats. (Most of our wine from Europe ships on boats.)This year, Michael Skurnik Importers are bringing in both Domaine Madone and Paul Durdilly Beaujolais via boat. While this takes longer, it’s better for the environment than piling everything on a jet at the last minute.
Beaujolais is a wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Every year, parties are held around the world at 12:01, popping the first cork of Beaujolais. It’s a party wine. Keep that in mind when you pick up a bottle and you should be able to enjoy it with a smile on your face.
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