What is Beaujolais Nouveau? All You Need to Know

Beaujolais Nouveau

“Nouveau” means a wine that is harvested and sold in the same year!

Beaujolais Nouveau is a type of French red wine that is made from Gamay grapes and produced in the Beaujolais or Beaujolais Villages appellation.

And it’s released each year on the third Thursday of November, and many people celebrate its arrival with parties and festivities. If you’re curious about this wine, or want to learn more about it, read on!

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What Does Beaujolais Nouveau Taste Like?

Beaujolais Nouveau Taste Profile

Beaujolais Nouveau is usually light, fresh and fruity, with aromas and flavors of fresh raspberries, cranberries, tart cherries, banana, and fig, with notes of mineral and pepper. Plus it has low tannins, making it easy to drink and a great choice for those who are new to wine.  

How to Serve? When to Drink?

Beaujolais Nouveau is best served slightly chilled (55 to 60 degrees F) and can be enjoyed on its own, or paired with a variety of foods and occasions. And it’s meant to be drunk young. So the sooner the better!

What is the Beaujolais Wine Region?

France Wine Region Map red grapes pinot noir vintage champagne

Beaujolais is an area of France located just north of the city of Lyon, immediately south of the Burgundy region. And it mainly produces red wines from Gamay grapes, as well as a smaller production of white wines from Chardonnay grapes, and Rosé wines.

There are 12 appellations in Beaujolais made up of three (3) tiers:

  • Beaujolais – Largest region that is well-known for its expansive flatland spread across 72 communes.
  • Beaujolais-Villages – Comprised of 38 villages in the hilly region to the north of Beaujolais; producing wines with a richer structure and complexity than their southern counterparts.
  • 10 Crus of Beaujolais – France’s leading natural winemakers are producing sophisticated, ageworthy wines that are becoming more popular. Because they sustainably cultivate old vineyards, picking the ripest fruit with minimum interference en route to crafting truly remarkable wines. (St. Amour, Julienas, Fleurie, Chenas, Moulin a Vent, Morgon, Chirouble, Regnie, Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly)

Beaujolais Nouveau is created from flavorful Gamay grapes grown in Beaujolais and remains the most beloved type of wine for this region. It’s worth noting that these two AOCs, Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages, are the ONLY appellations in Beaujolais that can produce Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais Rosés.

How its Produced?

Winemakers often rely on carbonic maceration, a traditional local method that results in wines with less tannin and complexity compared to standard fermentation. However, the wine has an excellent refreshing quality and delightfully fresh, fruity flavors and aromas.

And the wines are released a only 6 – 8 weeks after harvest.

What is Carbonic Maceration?

This technique involves whole bunches of grapes (that are not crushed) being placed into sealed tanks filled with carbon dioxide. Then the carbon dioxide seeps into each grape, causing the juice within each individual grape to begin fermenting. 

Moreover, when the grapes burst open, gravity pushes them to the base of the tank/vessel and conventional fermentation occurs and finishes.

History of Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau is a special wine released shortly after harvest season every November, giving people the first wine of the new vintage. And it was created as a tradition among vineyard workers to celebrate the end of the harvest.

And Beaujolais Nouveau is released the 3rd Thursday of every November, and is traditionally consumed with much celebration and fanfare! 

What began as something to bolster Beaujolais winemakers’ profits has since blossomed into an French holiday/celebration that is cherished by locals and visitors alike. Not only celebrating on that one Thursday, but now lasting the entire week in November.

And the idea of Beaujolais Nouveau only started to become popular amongst many Americans in the 1970s and 1980s. Because it was light with straightforward flavors making for an easy drinking experience. And that was precisely what people desired at that time. Additionally the association of Beaujolais with Beaujolais Nouveau convinced them that all Beaujolais wines are light and unadventurous.

However, nowadays the region and its wines have been elevated beyond this level of simplicity; the wines can be light, fresh and fruity, to complex and full-bodied enough to age gracefully, and yet still affordably priced!

When is Beaujolais Nouveau Day?

3rd Thursday of November

3rd Thursday of Every November! And it was created by Georges Duboeuf aka the “King of Beaujolais”. 

Finally it’s not celebrated on just one day anymore. It should be called Beaujolais Nouveau week because its celebrated for more like the entire 3rd week of November.

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