2011 Beaujolais Nouveau

Tasting the latest releases


Time to get ready for the big Turkey Day while working out one’s wine pairings. This is actually a great time to be paying attention to wine media, though what we are saying can become kind of predictable. Pinot for Thanksgiving, or if you’re a hipster, then it’s Lambrusco, Pineau d’Aunis or Nerello Mascalese. As long as the vineyards are on the north side of Etna. Duh!

Another predictable event that happens this time every year is the bashing of Beaujolais Nouveau, except for some particular producer du jour’s wines, naturally. The truth about Beaujolais Nouveau is simple, it’s a successful wine designed to appeal to the masses, and that is just what it does. It’s a wine that harkens back to more primitive days, reflecting more of the unfettered essence of the grape than other grapes that have been aged longer, undergone malolactic fermentation and otherwise been touched by the influencing hand of the wine maker.

Does that make these wines better you might ask? I would say no, but it also doesn't make them worse. What people may fail to realize is that Beaujolais Nouveau is designed to be enjoyed for its simplicity, its overt fruitiness and its refreshing character. Like Thanksgiving, it is more about a celebration of life itself than the epitome of winemaking. Oh, and it’s also a marketing gimmick, see how we’re all talking about Beaujolais?  Well, we don’t have to get into that, but we can get into some of the best Nouveau of 2011!

Photo courtesy lenkolaf via Flickr/CC

2011 Christophe Pacalet Beaujolais Nouveau 12% $13

Nicely vinous and slightly herbal, with a lovely Beaujolais quality that’s a bit astringent and chalky. Some bitter root nuances add complexity to the spicy red berry fruit. This has a lovely richness in the mouth and real depth of flavor. There’s a nice mineral tone, with fine red berry fruit that is supported by a hint of that root vegetable found on the nose. The tannins add a bit of firmness under the fruit. Elegant and relatively complex with a lovely finish, long and aromatic.  88pts

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2011 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau 12.5% $15.00

Reticent with more earth, spice and floral notes than fruit on the nose.  Rather larger scaled than many 2011s with a lovely texture, which is light and elegant yet with some weight. The black currant, black berry and inky spice flavors really penetrate the palate, leading to a fresh, long, slightly mineral edged blackberry scented finish. There is lovely purity to this wine. 87pts

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2011 Chateau du Souzy Beaujolais Nouveau 12.5% $8.00

Big and rich, with black cherry, spicy strawberry and a lovely mineral/floral top note. Bright and juicy with nice black cherry skin fruit up front, and plenty of wild grape, blackberry and a little spice on the back end. Very gentle finish with some soft grape skin tannins. 86pts

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2011 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau 12.5% $10.00

Dark and a little earthy one the nose, with restrained fruit and subtle floral and spicy top notes. Soft in the mouth with a gently tactile richness. This is really easy to drink and is smooth and polished, with slightly chewy raspberry and mulberry flavors. A touch flat even in the mouth, though this does show off nice hints of spice on the rather long finish. Very broadly appealing texture. 86pts

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2011 Domaine de la Terres Dorees L’Ancien Beaujolais Nouveau 12% $15.00

Full on earth, spice, musky floral and stemmy fruit aromas greet the nose. This is intense and complex on the nose and rather silky in the mouth. The fruit is dark and a bit less obvious than the other 2011s. Some mulberry and red currant vie for attention with good support from integrated acids and ripe tannins, but the mid-palate and light, crisp fruit-driven finish are both bit of a let down when compared to the nose. 86pts

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2011 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais Nouveau 13% $13

Low key on the nose and gently peppery with low, dark fruit. Nice texture, very clear and precise with easy black raspberry and almost boysenberry fruit. Very low key with a nice hint of tannins and surprisingly good length. 84pts

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2011 Pascal Chatelus Beaujolais Nouveau 12% $12

A little earthy on the nose, with a hint of leathery funk and cola under mulberry fruit and some white pepper. Rather soft in the mouth with good acid, but enough flesh to cover it. Very red cherry fruited and clear, if simple and a touch short.  84pts

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2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 12.5% $8.00

Bubblegum and banana laughy taffy on the nose. Very broad in the mouth and aromatic, with more banana and pineapple notes accenting the vague core of red fruit. Richer and chewier than many 2011s, this is rather monotonous right through the short finish. 83pts

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2011 Domaine Rochette Beaujolais Nouveau 12.5% $10.00

Lightly aromatic on the nose, with nuanced spice and earth note. Very light on entry with simple, classically grapy Nouveau flavors. The finish here is a bit hard, with acid and astringent tannins. 83pts

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  • Snooth User: Clairette
    158405 3

    Thank you for some simple, excellent comments on Beaujolais Nouveau. It gets so dreary to hear people complaining about it every year. And this year's is a delight. Goes very well with Chritmas lunch, too, I find.

    Nov 21, 2011 at 5:59 PM

  • "It's a wine that harkens back to more primitive days..."

    When we were gullible.

    Le Beaujolais Nouveau est passé.


    Nov 22, 2011 at 3:51 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 225,523

    Have you tried any Nouveau this year or do you just enjoy repeating standard wine geek lines?

    Nov 22, 2011 at 8:41 AM

  • Sadly, yes - the Georges Duboeuf, a taste of which was delivered with a shrug of resignation by a London merchant.

    Like, I suspect, the majority of this year's Nouveau, it will be immeasurably better when it is plus vieux.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 9:54 AM

  • Snooth User: Fenderbaum
    Hand of Snooth
    161289 668

    Nice article, thanks Greg. For me, BN is a perfect Sunday afternoon drink. Especially as the days become colder and drinking cava seems less appealing.

    Nov 24, 2011 at 4:25 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 225,523

    Thanks Fender!

    My thoughts exactly, Sunday lunch with leftovers.

    Nov 24, 2011 at 7:29 PM

  • Still think it's the Beaujolais which should have been left over, to mature some more!

    Nov 25, 2011 at 4:56 AM

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