It had been years since I had tasted a Beaujolais Nouveau but for the sake of wine journalism I bellied up at the wine shop and picked up a bottle along with a 2008 vintage of Beaujolais Villages from Louis Jadot.
Beaujolais is that little area north of Lyon, France, known for its Gamay grape (think of Pinot Noir) and soft fruity wines released each year on the third Thursday of November (by French law) and sold inexpensively around the world.
George Dubouef is the wine's dominant producer and chief promoter. He sells more than 30 million bottles a year! So I bought a bottle of his 2009 Nouveau in anticipation. The wine is exactly what it's billed to be: fruity, pretty direct, no bite and inexpensive.
I spent some time reading about Gamay and reviews of Beaujolais and largely decided I wasn't fond of the flavor characteristics. I can easily see how people would enjoy this wine and serve it during the holidays with fowl and use it as an introduction to more serious wine for non-wine drinkers.
My assessment, 'Okay, but unremarkable.' I can see why people like it. Or, do they like it because of its uniqueness .... the quirky November release each year, the much ado, the total lack of any tannins or bitterness?
The wine has it's critics and some insist the Nouveau craze is fading each year.
As mentioned above, I also bought a Jadot "Villages" that I liked quite a bit. The 2008 has had the obvious extra time to mature. There are very mild tannins and it makes for a very drinkable, but light, red wine.
It has the freshness of the Nouveau but just that little bit of tannin and acidic finish which makes it more appealing to the more frequent wine drinker.
I could see drinking this wine with turkey, ham and sides at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I also believe I'd offer this wine up to a wine newbie with a higher level of confidence than the nouveau. I'd definitely serve the Jadot wine over any Nouveau if I was pairing it with food.
So try a Beaujolais and the Gamay grape, but go for the one with a little age on it!
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