Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day! The 3rd Thursday of November is celebrated with fireworks, music and festivals in France. Under French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is released at 12:01am on Thursday, just weeks after harvest. The celebration marks the consumption of the first wines of the season.
A litte bit about Beaujolais
This wine is made from the Gamay grape in a small region of France called, you guessed it, Beaujolais, located just south of Burgundy. This area is divided by the Nizerand River, and has distinct soil types on each side of the river. The soil types play a major role in the flavor of the wine produced here. The more prestigious Beaujolais wines (Beaujolais Crus) are mostly located on the North side of the river where the soil is mostly granite and schist. South of the river consists of mainly marl, or clay-based soil. The Gamay grapes undergo a quick and unique fermentation process, known as carbonic maceration. The process of carbonic maceration preserves the fresh and fruity qualities of the grapes without extracting the bitter tannins from the skins. These wines are light, floral, and have the unique flavor of bananas, a result of the fermentation process.
There are 3 classifications of Beaujolais wine
Beaujolais AOC Made up of all 96 winemaking villages, mostly from the South. The marl and flatlands make it more difficult for the grapes to properly ripen. This allows for a wide variance in the quality of wines produced under this classification. Easy to drink, refreshing acidity, and little tanning. Served chilled with a big juicy hamburger. One of my absolute favorite pairings!
Beaujolais Villages AOC Getting a little bit fancier, we have 38 official "Village" wines. These wines tend to be a little darker and richer in character. With a majority of the villages located in the North on the granite and schist soils, the wines pick up a stronger mineral quality.
Beaujolais Crus This is the good stuff. The best of the best from Beaujolais. All located in the North, there are 10 Crus of Beaujolais. Each Cru is very distinct based on the climate, soil, and altitude where the grapes are grown. Beautifully complex and a wonderful example of the effects of 'terroir.'