An image of a bottle of French beaujolais villages nouveau red wine
An image of a bottle of red wine with a label identifying it as 2019 beaujolais-villages nouveau by Georges Dubouf

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!“—a proclamation that’s heard around the world on the third Thursday of November each year, announcing the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine made from Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region, located in Burgundy, France. Under French law, this iconic wine is released at 12:01 a.m., just weeks after the wine’s grapes have been harvested. Its release is celebrated with fireworks, music, and festivals all across the country.

Today, Beaujolais Nouveau is quite polarizing among wine lovers: they either love it (helping to propel the wine into cult status), or scoff at it (opting for bottles of higher-end, cru Beaujolais). So, what’s all the fuss about? Let’s dive into the history behind Beaujolais, and the debate surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau.

About the Beaujolais region and its wines

The region of Beaujolais is comprised of small, family-owned wine growers, and is a study of the Gamay grape, which touts a bright purple juice, medium body, fresh acidity, and fruit-forward flavors. While Beaujolais wines are produced in small-scale quantities, there are countless variations that range from firmer and more earth-driven flavors from the north, and softer, easier-drinking flavors from the south.

There are 12-different Beaujolais appellations, 10-of which are known as crus. These 10-crus are the region’s most celebrated wines, and each is unique thanks to its terroir (a combination of soil, vine and climate characteristics). However, folks in the United States primarily know the Beaujolais region for one thing: Beaujolais Nouveau. This affordable, light-hearted, and fruit-forward wine has gained mass-adoration from wine drinkers today. Its release also falls one week before Thanksgiving in the U.S., making it a staple of the Thanksgiving spread today.

The debate surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau

Because Beaujolais Nouveau is released shortly after harvest, its grapes have very little time to ferment and virtually no time to settle or age. This means its wines are light in body and simple in flavor—perfect for easy sipping for any wine drinker. It also costs a mere $10-$20 a bottle, making it an inexpensive bottle for mass audiences to consume and love.

On the flip side, some wine connoisseurs consider Beaujolais Nouveau pale in comparison to the nuanced, savory, age-worthy cru Beaujolais wines that have risen in popularity over the last decade. Some even consider Beaujolais Nouveau to be offensive to the region, calling it “barely wine” and blaming it for blemishing the reputation of the Beaujolais region.

Try the Beaujolais Nouveau 2019 for yourself!

There’s only one way to choose which side you’re on in the Beaujolais Nouveau debate: come try the wine for yourself! We’ll be tasting this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau in the shop on Friday, November 22nd from 1-6pm. This wine is not designed to age, and should be consumed within the first few months of its release, so come taste it at its best. Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day—we can’t wait to celebrate with you!

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