It’s that time again! The 3rd Thursday of every November marks the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau — light red, casual drinking wine from the gentle rolling hills and golden stone countryside of the Beaujolais region of France. French law has decreed that the Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be released until the stroke of midnight, on the 3rd Thursday of November, so while the French countryside is sleeping, wine producers and distributors rush to stock their shelves with the new release.
Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape , and by law, the grapes must be harvested by hand. Sixty-five million bottles are produced annually, and exported worldwide, with the top 3 markets being Germany, Japan and the U.S. Beaujolais is never aged, but meant to be consumed just weeks after harvest.
Some wine critics do not believe the Beaujolais Nouveau to be a serious wine, as it lacks complexity brought on by the aging process. But that is considered by some to be part of its charm. If you are wine shopping, look for the banners that proclaim “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!”
Celebrating the release of the new harvest was originally a local festival, but thanks to successful marketing campaigns, you will see Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations popping up around the world. Ask your local wine merchant when they will receive their stock. Is it a coincidence that the wines hit store shelves just in time for U.S. Thanksgiving?
In Lyon today, November 15, an expert panel of 70 wine critics, sommeliers, and Michelin-starred chefs gathered at Lyon’s beautiful Hotel du Ville for a tasting and judging competition, to award the coveted Trophy Lyon-Beaujolais Nouveau. The winners will be announced tomorrow on the Lyon Le Progres website.
I toured the Beaujolais region last year on a tour organized by the Lyon Office of Tourism. We visited wine cellars, and met with the former Mayor of one of the Beaujolais villages. Madame (adorable lady, center, in the photo below) educated us with the history of Beaujolais and the growing and harvesting process. And of course, we sampled!
So no matter where you are on the 3rd Thursday of November each year, you have cause to celebrate! Santé!