Tuesday, November 27, 2012

George Dubouef's Beaujolais Nouveau (2012)

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!   Actually, it arrived a week ago.  (There is a little lag time when it comes to posts.)  The date and time were 12:01 a.m. on the third Tuesday of November.  At that precise moment, thousands upon thousands of Beaujolais Nouveau bottles were released to the public.  This release has followed a tradition that dates back to 1951.  Today, people come together to celebrate the release of each new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau.  And the 2012 vintage was just released ....

Winemakers, like George Dubouef, produce Beaujolais Nouveau using the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grapes, which are also known as "Gamay" grapes.  These grapes are purplish in color, and are primarily grown in the Beaujolais region of France.  By law, the grapes must be picked by hand.  The winemaker then uses the process of carbonic maceration to ferment the grapes.  Whole grapes are fermented in a carbon-dioxide rich environment, which results in the juice fermenting inside the grapes.  (By contrast, traditional winemaking processes involving crushing the grapes to separate the juice and pulp from the skin, as well as using yeast to ferment the wine.)  The resulting wine is then "aged" for only a short period of time.  It is then bottled six to eight weeks after the harvest.  The result is a very young wine, that is said to be full of fruit.

This was the first time that I have tried Beaujolais Nouveau.  When I poured the wine, it was a purplish-pink in color.  The aroma and flavor of the wine seemed to exude citrus -- like grapefruit and melon -- as well as sour cherries.  This was a little unexpected, and, I just wrote it off to the youth of the wine.

However, that wine transformed before my eyes.  As it rested and got some air, the Beaujolais Nouveau began to transform itself.  The tart citrus and sour cherries that first greeted the drinker transformed themselves into full, ripe, red cherries.  As subsequent glasses of wine were poured and the bottle sat empty on the table, each new glass seemed as if it came from a different wine.  The young and edgy newcomer -- that 2012 vintage -- seemed to have aged, taking on the characteristics of a slightly older, but mellower vintage.

Once the wine has mellowed, it can be paired with a wide range of dishes.  The full berry flavor goes well with earthy and spicy flavors.  This wine may have actually paired well with a Thanksgiving dinner, complementing not only the turkey but all of the traditional sides, such as mashed potatoes and cranberries.  (Mere coincidence when it comes to the timing of the release ... or is it?)  I would think this wine could go well with roasted or grilled meats (which seem to grace the table of every party), as well as a host of French cheese, including brie.  

The Beaujolais Nouveau seems like it is available everywhere, both in wine stores and grocery stores.  A bottle sells for about $9.99.


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