Monday, November 22, 2010

Serve Slightly Chilled

Most of us missed the worldwide celebration last week honoring annual arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau! Every year on the third week of November a number of French wineries, mainly Georges Duboeuf and Maison Joseph Drohin release this very short-lived vintage, straight from the 2010 harvest and bottled a mere six to eight weeks prior.

Why such a young red wine? The Beaujolais Nouveau is intended for immediate consumption! It should remain in its best form through the holidays but most begin to decline in quality after this brief window. Expect a very light red with very little tannin and fruity flavors such as banana, pear, and fig. Traditionally you should be able to enjoy this with your heavy holiday fare of turkey, ham, and all of the fixin's that come with them!

Serve this wine on the cool side- they recommend a temperature of about 55-56 degrees Fahrenheit which is what your wine fridge (if you have one) may be set at already!

This year's colorful Duboeuf Label Art

Ten Fun Facts about Beaujolais Nouveau!

1. Beaujolais [BOE-zjoh-lay] Nouveau is always released the third Thursday of November, regardless of the start of the harvest.

2. The region of Beaujolais is 34 miles long from north to south and 7 to 9 miles wide. There are nearly 4,000 grape growers who make their living in this picturesque region just north of France's third largest city, Lyon.

3. All the grapes in the Beaujolais region must be picked by hand. These are the only vineyards, along with Champagne, where hand harvesting is mandatory.

4. Gamay (Gamay noir à Jus Blanc) is the only grape permitted for Beaujolais. While certain California wineries may label their wine "Gamay Beaujolais" this is not the same grape variety as what is grown in France, and is quite different in taste and growing habits.

5. Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be made from grapes grown in the 10 crus (great growths) of Beaujolais-only from grapes coming from the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages.

6. Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration—also called whole berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.

7. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young-in average vintages it should be consumed by the following May after its release. However, in excellent vintages (such as 2000) the wine can live much longer and can be enjoyed until the next harvest rolls around.

8. Serve Beaujolais Nouveau slightly cool, at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit-the wine is more refreshing and its forward fruit more apparent than if you serve it at room temperature.

9. Approximately 1/3 of the entire crop of the Beaujolais region is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.

10. The region of Beaujolais is known for its fabulous food. The famed Paul Bocuse Restaurant is just minutes from the heart of Beaujolais, as is Georges Blanc's eponymous culinary temple. These great restaurants have plenty of Beaujolais on their wine lists. This quintessential food wine goes well with either haute cuisine or Tuesday night's meat loaf.

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