Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive

The Beaujolais [BOE-zjoh-lay] Nouveau wine has arrived.

It is always released the third Thursday of November, regardless of the start of the harvest. Americans generally associate it with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My wife got me started on it. Neither of us are wine snobs, and this Beaujolais is not for snobs anyway.It sells for under ten bucks.

The 2009 vintage is said to be the best vintage in 50 years due to perfect growing conditions in France.

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 pretty region just north of Lyon.

They pick all the grapes by hand. These are the only vineyards, along with Champagne, where hand harvesting is mandatory. Beaujolais grows lots of Gamay grapes (AKA Gamay noir). This is not white wine country. Beaujolais Nouveau can only be made from grapes coming from the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages.

The wines are fruity and higher in acid - perfect to drink in their youth and well suited for food.

I suppose there are other labels, but we have been buying a few bottles of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau for the past 35 years to drink to end the year and start the year. It's a nice tradition.

Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young, so finish it off before spring. They say that the excellent vintages (such as 2000 as 2009) can live longer - maybe until the next harvest.

I found a bottle of 2008 vintage in the basement this past week that had been forgotten. I guess 2008 was not an excellent vintage. Down the drain.

Lesson learned. Drink the 2009 for the holidays.

Serve it pretty cool (recommended 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but I like it colder) though I have read that it is "more refreshing and its forward fruit more apparent" when served at room temperature.

By the way, what IS "room temperature?"  Remember, that term comes from a time when homes were not well heated or air-conditioned. So, we are talking 14-18 Celsius (about 57-64 for Americans).

Not sure about serving temperature? Err on the side of caution and serve the wine a little too cold. The wine warms up quickly in the glass and releases pleasing aromas as it does -  no easy way to cool a wine served too warm when it's in your glass.

The region of Beaujolais was first cultivated by the Romans who planted the areas along its trading route up the Saône valley. From the 7th century through the Middle Ages, most of the viticulture and winemaking was done by the Benedictine monks. In the 10th century, the region got its name from the town of Beaujeu, Rhône and was ruled by the Lords of Beaujeu till the 15th century when it was ceded to the Duchy of Burgundy. The wines from Beaujolais were mostly confined to the markets along the Saône and Rhône rivers, particularly in the town of Lyon.

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