I know I say this every year, but I feel like the end of Fall and the beginning of the “holiday season” isn’t American Thanksgiving…it’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day! Several coworkers and I tried to find DC restaurants and wine bars that were having release parties, or at the very least were serving the 2012 vintage, but it seemed like this year had much smaller buzz than past years. I can only assume that it’s because the weather meant a smaller Gamay grape crop, which in turn means smaller Beaujolais Nouveau production. But, I wasn’t going to let that spoil my holiday fun. It may have taken me until Sunday, but the A Glass After Work household can finally say “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!”
For the uninitiated, Beaujolais Nouveau is made in the Beaujolais region of France using Gamay grapes. Unlike most wines, though, Beaujolais Nouveau isn’t aged before it’s released to distributors for sale. In fact, the whole purpose of the wine is that it is young. It only takes 6-8 weeks for the grapes to leave the vineyard, go through crushing, fermentation, and bottling, and head to the distributor and wine store shelves. The fruity, immature wine hints at the wonders that will be the 2012 Beaujolais vintage as the wines age, and often is a great wine to have at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
I grabbed two bottles this of 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau, both from Georges DuBoeuf. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Georges Dubious ‘s debut of the Beaujolais Nouveau in the United States, so the theme for this year’s release is “Nouveau Magic” and one of the bottles I opened was certainly shared the Nouveau Magic.
The 2012 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau with the orange label (winery, amazon) is the bottle you’re most likely to find in stores. It was a very light ruby with pinkish and purplish flecks. On the nose, there were strawberries, “red shoe lace” licorice, and hints of mint leaves. In the mouth, there were hints of strawberries and tart raspberries, but the biting acidity overwhelmed most of the taste. The wine had a light body and light tannins.
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Overall: 2.5 Corks
The 2012 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau with the purple and orange label was a very light ruby with a pinkish purple tint. On the nose, there were strawberries, “red shoe lace” licorice, and under-ripe raspberries. In the mouth, there were strawberries, under-ripe raspberries, and twigs. The wine had high acidity, low tannins, and a light body.
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Overall: 3.5 Corks
Final thoughts: Admittedly, beyond the label design, I’m not sure what how to help you differentiate between the two bottlings, but there was certainly a quality and taste difference. The orange label wine was not only not magical, it was downright disappointing. The purple label wine, though, was worth the extra two dollars and was exactly what I look for in a Beaujolais Nouveau—a fun, light, and fruity wine that will please most wine drinkers at your Thanksgiving feast and is the perfect pairing with turkey and cranberry sauce. One hint before you serve this wine at your dinner table, though…refrigerate it a little beforehand. It is one of those red wines that benefits from a little chill.
So, go grab a bottle of the purple Beaujolais Nouveau and,
to all my American readers,
have a safe, wonderful Thanksgiving.