Beaujolais Nouveau day is just around the corner and We. Are. Buzzin’. Historically, it is the 3rd Thursday of November, and under French law it is released at 12:01am to great fanfare and fireworks. The short fermentation of the Gamay grape means that this is (usually) the first wine of the northern hemisphere’s vintage (in other words, the first red wine of whatever year it is to be released for public consumption in the northern hemisphere) Its conception began just over 100 years ago as a cheap and cheerful way to celebrate the end of harvest season, proof that humans will try and make anything a party so long as there’s booze on the go.
So let’s look at Beaujolais as a region first. It’s about 34 miles long and 7-9 miles wide and sits between Burgundy and the Rhône. Most of the slopes face south, and there’s warm continental winds, which all help the traditional Gamay grapes get ripe and full very quickly. Like most grapes (and people) Gamay makes life hard for itself and buries its roots deep below the water line in the soil, essentially dehydrating itself. Thanks to the lovely little quirk, the grapes are incredibly high in acidity, so wine-makers came up with a method to soften this up.
Gamay grapes have thick skins, and can get very round and ripe pretty quickly. This means that they are ideal for a process called Carbonic Maceration. Carbonic Maceration (CBM) sounds a lot more fancy than it is. In a normal fermentation, vintners will gently crush the grapes exposing the juices inside to oxygen. In CBM, the grapes are left whole, and fermentation begins inside the skin of the grapes, the carbon dioxide is pumped over the top of them creating the perfect conditions for anaerobic fermentation. The entire process takes place inside the berry, meaning these wines are very fruity, and very low tannin, as there has been very little outer skin contact.
The result is a very fruity, young red wine. Some classic tasting notes for wines that have undergone CBM are “bubblegum” “banana foamies” “cherry coke” and “strawberry gummies.” Now I don’t know about you, but wines that sound like 90s tuck shops are right up my street. If you aren’t familiar with the charms of a 2p sweet shop, Beaujolais Nouveau should taste bright and fresh – think under ripe red fruits like cherries and strawberries. They can have a slight tangy spritz thing going on sometimes, which is really refreshing and delicious. The main pull is that they should be really easy to drink, and they go fab with a bacon roll.
The main rule is (in a wine without rules) that it should be drunk young, typically by the Easter of the following year. The wines, if they are well made, should last for about a year after release, but it’s definitely a “crack a bottle open with pals now” kind of wine rather than a cellaring wine!
BOJONOVO day is Thursday 18th November 2021, and we are open for pre-orders now!