Every year, the third Thursday in November is “Beaujolais Day” in France. For most in America, we recognize the holiday as the bright, colorful labels of “Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau,” or more aptly, “that wine that we always drink at Thanksgiving dinner that comes out once a year.” What started out as a celebration of gamay and a glimpse at the quality of the current vintage turned into a world-renowned holiday, thanks to a sophisticated marketing plan and incredibly fast distribution by Georges Duboeuf.
Regardless of whether you’re someone who anxiously awaits the release of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, there’s much more to Beaujolais.
Here’s my quick guide:
The region of Beaujolais is located in the southern part of Burgundy, France.
Remember, “Old World” refers to place, whereas “New World” countries refer to grape variety. So while someone may look for or drink a “Beaujolais,” that is not the grape variety.
Unlike Burgundy, where pinot noir is king, the noble grape variety of Beaujolais is gamay. The granite-laden hills and the all-encompassing terroir has proved that nowhere in the world does gamay grow better than in the region of Beaujolais.
Gamay is a red grape that produces wines with low tannin, high acid and fresh fruit.
Historically there are six “noble grapes” of the wine world: three red (merlot, cabernet sau…
The wines of Beaujolais are produced using a method of production called “carbonic maceration,” which directly influences the style of wine.
Beaujolais Nouveau is category of Beaujolais that represents wines that are only seven to nine weeks old. By design, it’s meant to be drunk young. So if you try it and don’t like it, perhaps it’s the category you don’t like.
Beaujolais AC, Beaujolais Superieur AC and Beaujolais-Villages AC — in order of increasing quality — are the other categories of Beaujolais. Each will offer wines with increasing complexity, depth and aging potential.
Ok, after all this, what do you drink? Here’s a list of wines to check out:
1. 2016 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau. Let’s get this one over with. It’s a love-hate relationship. Without it, perhaps we couldn’t find Beaujolais on a map; with it, we taste Beaujolais in its youngest form and risk being turned off to gamay forever. You’ll find this at Boulevard Super Liquors in Marmora for $12.99 per bottle.
2. 2014 Andre Colonge Beaujolais Villages. A great place to start. A classic example using sustainable farming from the commune of Lancie. Found at Circle Liquor in Somers Point for $12.99 per bottle.
3. 2013 Stephane Aviron Cote de Brouilly Vieilles Vignes. This comes from the highest category, using organic and biodynamic farming methods, Aviron’s wines are pure, expressive and ageworthy. All fruit comes from vines 40 years and older. You can find this at Whitehorse Liquors in Absecon for $18.99 per bottle.
4. 2015 Michel Guinier Morgon. Also from Beaujolais-Villages AC. Michel is a fourth-generation vigneron, producing wines in the most sustainable way possible. Medium bodied, ripe tannin and notes of chocolate. Found at Passion Vines in Somers Point for $14.99 per bottle.
When in doubt, rely on your sommelier and or wine merchant and challenge them and your pallet to drink and explore the world of Beaujolais and gamay.