Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau

One of the world’s oldest wine regions, Beaujolais has always produced a share of unassuming young wines not destined for anyone’s cellar. Of the total output for its regionally distinctive styles, nearly 30% is exclusively finished and marketed under the Nouveau designation. They invented the concept; they’re arguably still best at making it. Historically, the barely-off-the-vine, bright and uncomplicated Vin de l’année was intended to be consumed as a celebration of the current vintage’s harvest. Following on the long summer months spent waiting and praying for the season to be a bountiful one, came arduous weeks of picking, hauling, destemming, sorting, and a short fermenting period.
For the dedicated labourers, being gifted a few bottles of the freshly made juice was a small and well-earned reward. The shipping of Beaujolais Nouveau abroad as a significant export, though, is a relatively contemporary concept that only became widespread in the middle of the 1950’s; hitting its commercial peak in 1980. This unique timed-release on the 3rd Thursday in November remains celebratory but has, in some cases, become misunderstood or misrepresented over time.

In general, over-production or indiscriminate wine-making by a handful of the largest producers has saddled this specialty offering with a very mixed reputation; confusing discerning drinkers with undue levels of aromatic character such as ‘bubblegum’ and ‘twizzler’ (red licorice). No doubt, some of the opportunistic bottling that’s on offer is fairly reflected by these descriptors. However, many of the smaller, and a few large producers are fashioning a better balance in the fruity and charmingly simple wines that are possible with the Gamay grape: the pleasingly tart, flagship variety also known regionally as Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. Among the leading vintners is Joseph Drouhin, originally hailing from yet another noteworthy wine region, Chablis. With a move to Burgundy in 1880, he founded his new Maison in the wine capital city of Beaune. Building on his pioneering work, 4 succeeding family generations have continued the refinement; progressively becoming masters of both the Nouveau and regular Beaujolais wine styles.

beaujolais

In order to produce, bottle, and release the wine within a few weeks of picking, vintners use carbonic maceration as an alternate method to accelerate the finishing process. Unlike the traditional practice of crushing the grapes and exposing the mash to yeast, which converts sugars to alcohol and leeches out colour and tannins; in carbonic maceration, the whole grapes are placed into closed vats that are flushed with carbon dioxide to purge unwanted oxygen. The grapes begin a fermentation process inside their skin with the help of naturally present enzymes that do the work of converting sugar to ethanol. Gradually, the pressure of the fruit’s weight and the released gasses combine to squeeze out the alcoholized juice that’s then filtered and aged very briefly in stainless steel tanks — yielding a lightly pigmented and almost tannin-free Nouveau wine.

For this perennial DéClassé feature of Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2017, the Villages designation represents a qualitatively better grade due to the terroir-specific source of the grapes. Along with some added care in processing, these factors result in slightly higher pricing than the other generic fare. Dare to invest a few extra dollars, to rekindle an appreciation for this iconic wine. As for those that might too-generally deride the Nouveau style as representing immature wine lacking dimension and depth, pay little attention — they’re missing the playful point!

JOSEPH DROUHIN BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES NOUVEAU 2017
VINTAGES – Product #113266 | 750 mL bottle
Price $16.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: XD

Made in: Beaujolais, France
By: Joseph Drouhin S.A.
Release Date: November 16, 2017

Tasting Note
This light Garnet-coloured, easy drinking wine, has a zingy bouquet and flavours of cherry and berries. Try serving very lightly chilled as an apéritif with pâté and savoury hors-d’oeuvre, Gruyère cheese, beef fondue or substantial main dishes such as roast chicken, Cornish hen, and herb-stuffed pork loin.

Beaujolais Nouveau

One of the world’s oldest wine regions, Beaujolais has always produced a share of unassuming young wines not destined for anyone’s cellar. Of the total output for its regionally distinctive styles, nearly 30% is exclusively finished and marketed under the Nouveau designation. They invented the concept; they’re arguably still best at making it. Historically, the barely-off-the-vine, bright and uncomplicatedVin de l’année was intended to be consumed as a celebration of the current vintage’s harvest. Following on the long summer months spent waiting and praying for the season to be a bountiful one, came arduous weeks of picking, hauling, destemming, sorting, and a short fermenting period.
For the dedicated labourers, being gifted a few bottles of the freshly made juice was a small and well-earned reward. The shipping of Beaujolais Nouveau abroad as a major export, though, is a relatively contemporary concept that only became widespread in the middle of the 1950’s; hitting its commercial peak in 1980. This unique, timed-release on the 3rd Thursday in November remains celebratory but has, in some cases, become misunderstood or misrepresented over time.

In general, over-production or indiscriminate wine-making by a handful of the largest producers has saddled this specialty offering with a very mixed reputation; confusing
discerning drinkers with undue levels of aromatic character such as ‘bubblegum’ and ‘twizzler’ (red licorice). No doubt, some of the opportunistic bottling that’s on offer is fairly reflected by these descriptors, however, many of the smaller, and a few large producers are capably fashioning a better balance in the quality of the fruity and charmingly simple wines that are possible with the Gamay grape: the pleasingly tart, flagship variety also known regionally as Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. Among the leading vintners is Joseph Drouhin, originally hailing from yet another noteworthy wine region, Chablis. With a move to Burgundy in 1880, he founded his new Maison in the wine capital city of Beaune. Building on his pioneering work, 4 succeeding family generations have continued the refinement; progressively becoming masters of both the Nouveau and regular Beaujolais wine styles.

beaujolais

In order to produce, bottle, and release the wine within a few weeks of picking, vintners use carbonic maceration as an alternate method to accelerate the finishing process. Unlike the traditional practice of crushing the grapes and exposing the mash to yeast, which converts sugars to alcohol and leeches out colour and tannins; in carbonic maceration, the whole grapes are placed into closed vats that are flushed with carbon dioxide to purge unwanted oxygen. The grapes begin a fermentation process inside their skin with the help of naturally present enzymes that do the work of converting sugar to ethanol. Gradually, the pressure of the fruit’s weight and the released gasses combine to squeeze out the alcoholized juice that’s then filtered and aged very briefly in stainless steel tanks — yielding a lightly pigmented and almost tannin-free Nouveau wine.

For this perennial DéClassé feature of Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2016, the Villages designation represents a qualitatively better grade due to the terroir-specific source of the grapes. Along with some added care in processing, these factors result in slightly higher pricing than the other generic fare. Dare to invest a few extra dollars, to rekindle an appreciation for this iconic wine. As for those that might too generally deride the Nouveau style as representing immature wine lacking dimension and depth, pay little attention — they’re missing the playful and delightful point!

joseph-drouhin

JOSEPH DROUHIN BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES NOUVEAU
VINTAGES – Product #113266 | 750 mL bottle
Price $15.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: XD

Made in: Beaujolais, France
By: Joseph Drouhin S.A.
Release Date: November 17, 2016

Tasting Note
This light Garnet-coloured, easy drinking wine, has a zingy bouquet and flavours of cherry and berries. Try serving very lightly chilled as an apéritif with pâté and savoury hors d’oeuvre, Gruyère cheese, beef fondue or substantial main dishes such as roast chicken, Cornish hen, and herb-stuffed pork loin.

Gamay Noir Alert

As was mentioned in DéClassé late last year, while announcing the release of
the 2013 Nouveau stock, I promised to eventually feature a more fully aged and
developed version of Beaujolais to remind us that this wine style has a range of
sophistication – beyond the fun, simpler, ‘never been in the barrel’ versions that
appear on the 3rd Thursday of each November. In dedicating this week’s focus on
what is an often charming, medium-bodied wine, I’m also hoping to dispel some
of the dated scandal and derision that resulted in depressed sales of the output
from the Beaujolais AOC during the last 3 decades or so. Due to various follies, including overproduction in the 80’s when the ‘Nouveau craze’ really took hold,
the proud and storied Beaujolais vintners have had to be energetically engaged in
a public relations campaign to re-establish a well-deserved, favourable reputation.

In among 96 Beaujolais villages that are grouped together north of Lyon, in the
so-called gastronomic capital of France, the region’s highest-quality wines are
produced from the ten official ‘crus’ vineyard clusters – one of which is Morgon:
home to some of the 250 associated vintners, collectively marketing under the
umbrella marquee called Vignorons de Bel-Air.

Gamay Noir, one of the predominant varieties grown here, is an early ripening,
acidic type processed using a carbonic maceration method. The still-bunched
grape clusters are layered into fermentation vessels, with the bottom crushed
under the weight of those on top. The resultant juice begins its fermentation,
saturating the must in carbon dioxide. Since the grapes ferment as a whole berry,
this process tends to yield up very bright, colourful wines with low tannin content
along with a markedly, fruity flavor profile.

This week’s selection is the seasonally branded Hiver Gourmand – Silver Medal
winner at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris 2013, where any showing in
the upper 3 tiers of awards is a significant accomplishment for a $18 bottling!

Hiver Gourmand Morgon

VIGNERONS DE BEL-AIR HIVER GOURMAND MORGON 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #383778 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Beaujolais, France
By: Cave Des Vignerons De Bel-Air
Release Date: September 27, 2014

Tasting Note
Plentiful black plum, cherry and some hints of raspberry aromas and flavours.
Earthy with moderately firm tannins and a fine acidity gives it balance. Try with
food fare such as charcuterie, roast veal, duck a l’orange, turkey or goose.