Like many wine regions of the world, Beaujolais in France has always made vin de l’année, a young wine to celebrate the end of harvest season. Fresh and juicy, these wines are a bold purple-pink colour and bursting with an amazing array of fruit aromas, while their low tannin levels make them extremely—sometimes perilously— drinkable when young.
The grape that makes such a delicious wine possible is the Gamay Noir. By careful selection (in Beaujolais all grapes are hand-picked), whole berry fermentation and other techniques the grapes are turned into a red wine that drinks like a white: lightly chilled (13°C/55°F) it has hints of banana, pear, candy and some even say bubble gum! In the 1950’s the Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais (UIVB) set the release date for Beaujolais Nouveau to November 15th and the distributors made a great game of racing their first wines to market by train, airplane, balloon and eventually even on the Concorde! Eventually the date was changed to the third Thursday in November, to accommodate people welcoming the wine with a weekend to enjoy it in! Ready to drink at less than 8 weeks after harvest, it has become the focus of a celebration that goes beyond a simple harvest festival and lets people in cities and regions outside of Beaujolais toast the fruits of the vineyard with a celebration of lighthearted enjoyment.
Made with Gamay grapes sourced directly from France’s Beaujolais region, Winexpert’s Gamay Nouveau is a departure from our usual wines, where we recommend waiting three months or even longer to taste the first bottle. Gamay Nouveau is ready to enjoy on bottling day, and while it will improve for a year, its bursting fruit, joyfully hedonic aromas and easy-drinking character will make it unlikely for any bottle to last that long.
Why not start your own Nouveau party? The French have torchlight parades, fireworks and music festivals, but you can have as much fun on a little smaller scale: set your table Bistro-style with white napkins, good silverware and big, chunky wineglasses and some low candles, start with a Charcuterie platter of sliced meats and pâté with cornichons, olives, French mustard and loaves of crusty baguette. A composed salad followed by a simple entrée and cheese platter with fresh fruit rounds out a meal that’s not only simple, but immensely satisfying and celebratory. A little Edith Piaf or Serge Gainsbourg on the stereo and you’ll truly be celebrating le Nouveau!
To help you start your own Gamay Nouveau party, Winexpert has prepared this great party planner checklist.