Every year in France, the third Thursday of November is marked as Beaujolais Nouveau Day. But what exactly is Beaujolais Nouveau wine, and why is there a celebration to mark its release? We break down this special event in the wine world and share how you can celebrate at home!
The Beaujolais Region
Beaujolais is a wine region in France near the city of Lyon—the region is around 34 miles long from north to south and 7 to 9 miles wide, but despite that small size is home to nearly 4,000 vineyards!. 98% of wine production in the region is based on the Gamay grape, which produces light bodied, low tannin, medium-to-low alcohol, fruity wines. Wines from Beaujolais vary in quality and price, from the twelve A.O.C. (Appellation of Controlled Origin) “Cru” areas which produce premium, ageable wines to “village wine” which is often the casual bistro wine of choice in France. This light wine is great for pairing with all kinds of food, which is a perfect match for the foodie haven of Lyon and the surrounding area.
While there are Cru-level Beaujolais wines, Beaujolais Nouveau is not meant for the wine snob! This is a cheap and cheerful wine originally produced by locals to celebrate the end of the harvest season. Unlike other wines, Beaujolais Nouveau does not undergo an extensive fermentation and ageing process—in fact, this wine is bottled only a couple of weeks after the wine is harvested! This quick turnaround allowed farmers to make a quick profit at the end of harvest season without significant labour or winemaking costs.
Beaujolais Nouveau owes its quick winemaking time to a process called carbonic maceration. Grapes are handpicked in whole clusters and then placed in a sealed vessel. This vessel is then filled with carbon dioxide. In this oxygen-free environment, the grapes begin to ferment from the inside out, and eventually crush each other under their own weight to release the juice. The wine is then bottled and released about two weeks after fermentation completes. Carbonic maceration can impart fruity and bubblegum flavours to a wine, contributing to the recognizable character of Beaujolais Nouveau. This technique also preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the grapes without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.
Beaujolais Nouveau is best served chilled, which helps bring out the fruity flavours and contribute to its easy drinking characteristic.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day
Beaujolais Nouveau Day is held on the third Thursday of November to celebrate the end of harvest and release these cheap and cheerful, young wines. Around 120 festivals take place in the region, with lots of food, wine tasting, dancing and music.
This year, we unfortunately did not get any shipments of Beaujolais Nouveau, but we have a great selection of Beaujolais-Villages and Beaujolais-Cru wines in store! We are very happy to carry a selection of wines from Beaujolais Cru producer Domaine du Petit Pérou for you to celebrate with at home. This domain, located in Villié Morgon in the Beaujolais wine-growing region, has grown from three to eighteen hectares of vines, while maintaining the traditional growing methods handed down from father to son over five generations. Plus, save 10% if you buy three bottles, or 15% if you buy more than six!