Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 Est Arrive!"

Well Beaujolais Nouveau Day has come and gone. This year's bottling is quite enjoyable, dryer and crisper than previous years' bottles. I've read that this year's Nouveau is a more concentrated quaff than in previous years, owing to a smaller harvest. Well, at least it's a refreshing kind of hype from the King of Wine Hype, Georges Debeouf. I do not deny that I really enjoy this wine, especially on Thanksgiving, when its light, fruity, slightly vegetal taste and lightly fizzy mouthfeel pairs very well with all the foods on Turkey Day. I think of it like this: Session Wine. Light, quaffable, flavorful, bouncy, and very food-friendly, no different than the growing crop of session beers out there. It's a fun drink, nothing more, nothing less.
UPDATE: TASTING NOTES for the 2010 Georges Debeouf:
Very earthy, aromas of mascerated strawberries, figs, cocoa. First gulp says it all: you can taste the earth, the vine and the grape, almost in that order, with a snappy finish that tastes a little like sour cherries, hint of chocolate. Just enough tannin bitterness to stand up to stuffing and gravy, and to play off the cranberries and yams. Should drink nicely with all the traditional Thanksgiving flavors, even buttery mashed potatoes.

When I lived near Washington, DC in the 80's, the hype for this day was absolutely incredible. It took over the District, and there were parties at dozens of bars and restaurants. Philly had similar festivities, but the enthusiasm seemed to wane in the past few years. But this year, the parties are back, especially at the bars, restaurants and shops of Midtown Village, the area bounded by Chestnut St to Locust St, 12 th St to Broad. Their exciting details can be found HERE. Even the venerable achor of Midtown Village, McGillin's Olde Ale House, is involved, with special $5 glasses of Nouveau and half-priced famous French Onion soup, a nice lunch/after work repast.

Bistro St Tropez is also pulling out all the stops with an inviting Nouveau dinner tonight (and maybe through the weekend if you ask nicely). And Liberte, the new restaurant/lounge at the French-owned Sofitel in Center City is pouring and celebrating Nouveau all day and all weekend. Art Etchells at Foobooz has the most comprehensive rundown of the day's events, and it's a pretty impressive list. Who knew there were Beaujolais chocolates and soap! Pretty encouraging excitement for Philly.

Here's what the folks at Debeouf have to say about thois year's bottling:

"Generous notes of strawberry and black currant dominate the nose, with silky tannins that bring smoothness to the palate. The long finish has subtle touches of sweet Griottine cherry. "

Ok, I'm in.

For those of you who read me and are unfamiliar with the wine and the excitement all around it, here's a little history, reprinted from last year's musings:

At one past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. Banners proclaim the good news: "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!(The New Beaujolais has arrived!)" One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun.By the time it is over, over 65 million bottles, nearly half of the region's total annual production, will be distributed and drunk around the world. It has become a worldwide race to be the first to serve to this new wine of the harvest. In doing so, it has been carried by motorcycle, balloon, truck, helicopter, jet, elephant, runners and rickshaws to get it to its final destination. It is amazing to realize that just weeks before this wine was a cluster of grapes in a growers vineyard. But by an expeditious harvest, a rapid fermentation, and a speedy bottling, all is ready at the midnight hour.
Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local phenomenon in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each fall the new Beaujolais would arrive with much fanfare. In pitchers filled from the growers barrels, wine was drunk by an eager population. It was wine made fast to drink while the better Beaujolais was taking a more leisurely course. Eventually, the government stepped into regulate the sale of all this quickly transported, free-flowing wine. In 1938 regulations and restrictions were put in place to restrict the where, when, and how of all this carrying on. After the war years, in 1951, these regulations were revoked by the region's governing body, the Union Interprofessional des Vins de Beaujolais (UIVB), and the Beaujolais Nouveau was officially recognized. The official release date was set for November 15th. Beaujolais Nouveau was officially born. By this time, what was just a local tradition had gained so much popularity that the news of it reached Paris. The race was born. It wasn't long thereafter that the word spilled out of France and around the world. In 1985, the date was again changed, this time to the third Thursday of November tying it to a weekend and making the celebration complete. But wherever the new Beaujolais went, importers had to agree not to sell it before midnight on the third Thursday of November.

Get out and grab a bottle or two. It's pretty inexpensive. And there are other labels besides the well-known Georeges Debeouf: Drouhin, Labour Roi, and others. Enjoy the day!

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