I am the kind of wine-o that loves a brimming glass of a light-bodied, racy acid, mineral drenched red wine, so much so that I have given myself the title of “Gamay fan-girl.” It being almost November, it is a very exciting time for Gamay-loving individuals like myself. Not only because we get to stuff our faces with turkey and other great/weird Thanksgiving food our relatives decide to share but the festive spread inevitably pairs amazingly with Gamay. But, it also is the month when Beaujolais Nouveau comes out.
Beaujolais is the sassiest region in Burgundy, and for its red wine grape it solely grows…you guessed it…Gamay! A notable fact about Beaujolais is that this region is the only one other than Champagne where it is mandatory to pick all your grapes by hand. On the third Thursday of November (mark your calendar or Google Reminder) the winemakers of Beaujolais release their first young wine of the vintage. We see you sitting there scoffing like “No shit, of course they release their wine.” What makes this release notable is that the grapes were just harvested the summer prior. Additionally, ⅓ of all Beaujolais production will be sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a spritely, young, fun and starry-eyed surprise of a wine coming from one of the 120 regions in Beaujolais. It is not serious and is always cracking jokes. This is a wine that you buy to drink within a few days. It is not made to be put in a fancy cellar or consumed by rich Bordeaux-loving, steak eating, power play making businessmen. These bottles taste like a lollipop princess and are purely for fall festivities and end of harvest celebrations!
The region of Beaujolais can be broken down into a few parts.
First, the “lowest level” is known as AOC Beaujolais. It is the largest portion of the region and it made up of 96 regions that produce wine. They are easy-sipping, fruity, beautiful and usually meant to be consumed young. This AOC is not viewed as seriously as some of the others by certain individuals, but we think this AOC is bad ass. These wines will range from $10-$15, are dangerously chuggable, perfect for hanging out with friends or to accompany a weeknight dinner. Serve with a little chill for optimal deliciousness.
Beaujolais Village is the next tier up. There are 38 villages that produce wines that tend to be a tad more serious than fun loving AOC Beaujolais. These wines have a clean minerality that usually comes across in a white flower, baby powder aroma on the nose. It is viewed quite favorably by some wine snobs. These bottles will be a tad more pricey, at the $15-$20 range.
Cru Beaujolais is the fanciest of the Beaujolais babes. There are 10 cru Beaujolais regions that are considered pretty kick ass by anyone who is a Gamay fanatic and working in the wine world’s standard. These wines are bigger and fuller in body and can be aged for a few years. Strong minerality of limestone and slate lace the juice from these 10 regions. Surprisingly these wines are pretty reasonably priced even though they are from high class regions. A bottle of Cru Beaujolais will run you $20-$50.
Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty much the wine equivalent to a Valentine’s Day Hallmark card. People love to dismiss these bottles due to their youth. The key to enjoying these bottles is to accept them for what they are; a party in a bottle.