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Cru Beaujolais - It's NOT Nouveau!
We're coming up on the third Thursday in November, the annual release date of Beaujolais Nouveau, and sure, it's a fun fall ritual, timed to market to Thanksgiving wine needs, but while Nouveau may be the gateway to this lovely wine, it is definitely not where Beaulolais ends. There is a whole world of wine in the Beaujolais region, and I wanted to give you a little background on what Beaujolais is and why you should be drinking it.
The Beaujolais region lies just south of Burgundy and it's tiny - just 34 miles long and seven to nine miles wide. Red wine is made exclusively from the Gamay grape, which is somewhat of a cousin of Pinot Noir, but is way easier to grow, more prolific and ripens earlier. The region is divided north to south by the Nizerand River, with granite and schist-based soils on the north side and marl, or clay-based soils, to the south. All of the cru vineyards are located on the north side. In Beaujolais. The word "Cru" designates specific villages or areas in the region that are allowed to have their names on the label. There are ten of these in Beaujolais: Saint-Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Fleurie, Moulin-A-Vent, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Brouilly, and Cote de Brouilly. These villages are not permitted to produce Beaujolais Nouveau.
While traditionally the simpler Beaujolais wines are fermented using carbonic maceration (long story - maybe the subject of another post), producing aromas of banana and bubble gum, much of the Cru Beaujolais is vinified as in Burgundy - long, cool fermentation in open wood vats, ageing in small, often neutral oak barrels, and lees stirring. This process takes Gamay to another level, producing richer colored, more tannic wines that are quite suitable for ageing. So these wines still have that really refreshing acidity, but also have attributes more like a red Burgundy.
That said, there is no better wine for your Thanksgiving spread than Beaujolais. Because really who wouldn't want Burgundy with the traditional meal, and with Beaujolais, you have many Burgundian qualities for a fraction of the cost. The wines have flavors of raspberries, tart cherry, and sometimes black currant and darker fruit, depending on the villages, and can have secondary flavors of mushroom, violet and earth. Just so so good with a variety of foods. Plus, they tend to be low alcohol.
Come out to our Beaujolais Blowout on November 15th and see why Beaulolais is so beloved among wine enthusiasts. We will have Nouveau because - well, why not? But you'll be able to sample the diversity of this wonderful wine. Bottles will be available for retail purchase, and if you want to order some quantity, we will be able to get it deliverd before Thanksgiving.